Source Foto : Rakyat Merdeka
The Civil Society Coalition for Clean Elections strongly condemns President Joko Widodo’s statement that the president and ministers “can campaign, can take sides” during the General Election. The statement, made at Halim Perdana Kusuma on 24/01, raises concerns about the neutrality of the current cabinet and accusations of using state facilities for campaigning. This statement poses a significant threat to democratic practices leading up to the voting day on February 14, 2024. Allowing the President and Ministers to openly campaign could lead to conflicts of interest and potential fraudulent practices in the field.
Ideally, the President as the head of state and government should be tasked with carrying out the constitutional mandate which requires that elections take place directly, publicly, freely, secretly, honestly and fairly. Apart from controlling his subordinates to obey the constitution, the President should set an example to act fairly. Unfortunately, through various statements and indications, the President appears to be very partial to one of the candidate pairs, Prabowo Subianto and Gibran Rakabuming Raka.
The President’s partiality certainly cannot be taken lightly since the President has full control over defense and security instruments which can direct public support. In several incidents, the non-neutrality of elements of the State Civil Service or village officials was not followed by law enforcement measures. These various indications ultimately created the insinuation that the elections were indeed held fraudulently and in favor of one candidate pair.
Moreover, we assess that Jokowi’s statement indicates that the President has low moral standards and does not understand democratic ethics. State administrators should not use their positions for electoral political interests ahead of the elections. It is regulated in Article 281 paragraph (1) of Law Number 7 of 2017 concerning Elections that officials who are campaigning should not use their positions and should take leave outside the state’s responsibility.
This statement is prone to abuse, as officials supporting a candidate pair may abuse their authority, leading to an abuse of power. This has been reflected in the distribution of social assistance (bansos) by Ministers in the cabinet, such as the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Airlangga Hartarto, and the Minister of Trade, Zulkifli Hasan.
Instead of reprimanding the ministers and asking them to focus on their duties, the President’s statement may lead to an ineffective government performance at the end of the term.
The Coordinator of the Commission for Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), Dimas Bagus Arya, has stated that the President’s statement violates political ethics and undermines procedural and substantive democracy. The President’s role should be to ensure political tensions are reduced by showing neutrality and ensuring fair and dignified elections.
Based on the above, we urge:
Jakarta, 24 January 2024
The Civil Society Coalition for Clean Elections
+6281232758888/ email@example.com (Dimas Bagus Arya)