Jakarta – As 2017 is closing to an end, the nation now talks more loudly about what is popularly dubbed the ‘years of politics’, which will start in the new year of 2018. The upcoming two years will be occupied by the 2018 simultaneous regional elections and the 2019 presidential election.
On 27 June 2018, voters in 171 regions across the country will go to the polls to elect governors, district heads and city mayors – and their running mates. The Indonesian simultaneous regional elections, called the Pilkada, are dubbed the country’s ‘democracy feasts.’
For the people, it is expected that these Pilkada elections will not resemble the one that took place in Jakarta in early 2017. The capital city’s gubernatorial election was marked with massive and dreadful ‘anti-Ahok’ street rallies orchestrated by notorious hardline groups, alongside political rivals and opponents of incumbent Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahana Purnama.
The Jakarta election, in which the Christian and ethnic Chinese Ahok and his running mate Djarot Saiful Hidayat heavily lost to Anies Baswedan and his partner Sandiaga Uno, bitterly divided Jakartans into two camps. And, many feel that the resulting wounds are not fully healed yet.
But to our luck, horizontal conflicts caused by the Jakarta election did not intensify. Thanks to the political maturity of many citizens of the city. The people held that Indonesia is a plural state and diversity is an undeniable fact of national life, as shared by Kompas daily in its article ‘Laporan Akhir Tahun Nusantara: Mendamba Pilkada Serentak dengan Kesantunan.’ (which translates to ‘Nusantara Year-End Report: Longing for Simultaneous Pilkada that Upholds Good Manners).
However, despite such expectations, Kompas mentioned five provinces that will probably face serious conflicts in relation to their respective Pilkada, quoting police leaders. They are West Java, East Java, North Sulawesi, and Papua. The police’s assessment was based on the respective regions’ populace and political dynamisms.
Furthermore, adding on to the police’s prediction, the Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) said that Papua, Maluku and West Kalimantan are the provinces that may experience serious conflicts in connection with the Pilkada.
Meanwhile, judging from past elections, there are fears that next year’s Pilkada contestants may use racial and religious issues, locally referred to as SARA (ethnicity, religion, race and class), in their election campaigns. Their action could instigate horizontal conflicts.
Accordingly, religious organization leaders have called on all Pilkada-related parties to well manage possible horizontal conflicts next year. They include leaders from the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) and Muhammadiyah, Indonesia’s two largest mass organizations.