Thursday 24 Jan 2019 | 01:14 | SYDNEY
Thursday 24 Jan 2019 | 01:14 | SYDNEY

Indonesia buzzing as election day arrives



9 April 2014 08:59

Indonesians heading to the polls today will be presented with four colour-coded ballot papers and thousands of choices from whom to elect their representatives at the district, provincial and national levels. The elections will decide the make-up of the House of Representatives (DPR, yellow), Regional Representative Council (DPD, red), Provincial Legislative Councils (DPRD I, blue) and District Legislative Councils (DPRD II, green).

At the national level, all eyes will be on the House of Representatives (DPR), where 560 seats are being contested by 6607 candidates. Of the 15 parties competing, only those that receive 20% of seats in the House or 25% of the popular vote are eligible to put forward a candidate for the presidency.

Scene from the 2009 presidential election (Flickr/Isabel Esterman.)

The National Police is ready to deploy more than 250,000 personnel, with additional assistance from about 30,000 military (TNI) personnel and more than one million community protection officers. Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto on Monday reminded candidates and their supporters that the Elections Monitoring Agency (Bawaslu) and Constitutional Court would be ready to address any concerns from the public.

His words are less comforting than they should be. Former chief justice of the Constitutional Court, Akil Mochtar, has been accused of rigging the results of eleven election disputes for a cost of Rp 60 billion ($5.7 million). Details from the scandal that has rocked one of Indonesia's most trusted institutions are still being released, with the latest reports accusing the judge of requesting Rp 75 million worth of 'phone credit' from Golkar party member Alex Hasegem in exchange for settling another 30 election disputes in favour of former president Suharto's political party.

For today's elections, the public will also have eyes on the voting process. The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) has launched a mobile phone application called Mata Massa, or 'Eye of the Masses', which enables the public to report election violations. Another web-based anti-corruption initiative called Bersih2014 has compiled a list of candidates considered to be 'clean' of corruption, as evaluated by a group of civil society organisations including Transparency International Indonesia and the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS).

Some voters will protest government corruption by not voting at all. A Suharto-era movement to abstain from voting, known as 'golput' (short for 'golongan putih', meaning the 'white group'), still has followers today, who register their discontent by staying away from the ballot box. The term also applies to voters who don't have strong feelings either way about any of the candidates and simply choose not to vote, as well as those who submit what Australians would call a 'donkey vote'.

A local app developer has produced a game called 'Election Story', hoping to raise interest in voting among the younger generation. Other businesses are also cashing in on election fever by offering special deals to customers who show their 'blue pinkies' – voters are required to dip their little fingers in ink after voting. Twitter is buzzing with news, gossip and opinions from the world's most actively tweeting citizens. One trending hashtag on the eve of the election was #IndonesiaPilihSiapa ('who will Indonesia choose?').

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