Voting Influenced by Primordial Sentiments
Monday, 30 April, 2012 | 21:40 WIB
TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta:Primordial biases are being used as ammunition by those running for the Jakarta gubernatorial elections this year. According to Betawi historian J.J. Rizal, these biases helped clinch a victory for Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo five years ago.
He suggested that racial and primordial sentiments were becoming crucial considerations when people cast their votes, a phenomenon that explained the political prevalence of emotional voters. So how will things go with this year’s Jakarta elections? “These sentiments are still relevant,” Rizal said at a discussion last week. Rizal added that ahead of voters casting the ballot in July, Jakarta’s politicians running for the governor’s seat will be rolling out the promise of that “historical dream”.
And it is not just Fauzi Bowo who is using primordial biases to his advantage, but even independent academic candidates such as Faisal Basri. His running mate is Biem Benyamin, son of late Betawi comedian Benyamin Sueb, a man so famous for his Betawi origins and contribution to Betawi culture, he has an entire road in North Jakarta named after him.
A survey found that difference in candidates' characteristics, such as profession, age, and ethnicity, will become appeal factors to voters. The number of abstain votes is expected to be reduced significantly this year by more than 13 percent. The survey was conducted by Center of Policy Review and Strategic Development (Puskaptis) on 1.250 eligible voters from DKI Jakarta during 2-7 April this year. "This year, voter's participation in the election will reach 77,23 percent," said Puskaptis Director Husin Yazid last Sunday.
Husin said six candidate pairs advancing this year represent quite a variety of Jakarta's ethnicity. The candidature of the pair Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, deputy governor candidate, with Joko Widodo, governor candidate was pushed forward by Indonesian Democracy Party and Grand Indonesia Movement. When asked about the ethnicity issue, Basuki rather chose to highlight the capability and track record of each pair . “Give chances to honest and professional candidates to lead,” he said last Friday.
A sociologist from University of Indonesia, Iman Prasodjo, is also certain that Basuki's candidature will make the Tionghoa community, only around 5 percent of the Jakarta residents, feel represented in the political arena. He also disclosed the result of a mini survey done among his colleagues. “They don't know Ahok's background, but enthusiastic to pick him.” he said.
Musni Umar, a sociologist from Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University also agreed. He said ethnicity and religion can become factors in not only gaining increased votes in the regional elections, but also receiving funds and support. ****
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