Where Do We Want to Take Our Democracy?"

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Image credit: rumahpemilu.org

Elections as a way of exercising power in democracy have consequences at the intersection of the quality of government. From elected political officials, government can be better, just as good, or even worse. Election organizers, voters, and election participants determine the direction of the quality of democracy. In the context of the 2024 Indonesian Election, this direction of democracy also has challenges in the digital realm and educational institutions, especially in ensuring free and fair election campaigns and information.

"It turns out that election procedures, such as KPU regulations, can have a very bad impact on the substance of democracy," said the Executive Director of the Center for Political Science Studies, University of Indonesia (Puskapol UI), Hurriyah, in the discussion "2024 Election: Where Do We Want to Take Our Democracy? at Universitas Gajah Mada (UGM), Sleman Special Region of Yogyakarta (30/8).

According to Hurriyah, ensuring a better democracy is one of the responsibilities of election organizers by ensuring representative elections for women. If women's legislative nominations are not representative, the democratic direction of producing a parliament of at least 30% women will be increasingly difficult to achieve.

Executive Director of the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem), Khoirunnisa Nur Agustyati, reminded that various election actors must learn from the 2019 election. Law 7/2017 is still the legal basis for simultaneous elections in 2024. Unfortunately, the regulations made by the KPU are not valid. better than the 2019 election. This is not only a provision for nominating a minimum of 30% of women in electoral districts but also provisions regarding campaign finance reports and the nomination of former corruptors.

"Campaign funds are also related to the rise of campaigns and disinformation on social media. Election organizers have not prepared regulations for transparency of campaign funds and disinformation on social media," said Nisa (31/8).

The chairman of the DIY KPU, Hamdan Kurniawan, conveyed his autocriticism of the central-level KPU. The KPU's authority to make regulations should guarantee the quality of democracy through an open and participatory process. Hamdan assessed that in the 2024 elections, the regulations regarding nominations and campaigns, including regarding women's representation, were not open and participatory enough.

"Even though in making regulations, the KPU must involve various stakeholder actors, Not only election participants but also election observer NGOs. "This openness process is not only inviting, but there is a guarantee of follow-up on community input," said Hamdan.

Member of the Election Supervisory Body, Totok Hariyono, emphasized that, as election supervisor, Bawaslu not only supervises election participants but also the KPU. As a fellow election organizer, Bawaslu finds it important to collaborate with the KPU based on their respective functions and authorities for elections that are direct, general, free, secret (Luber), and honest and fair (Jurdil). However, if there is a violation committed by the KPU, cooperation applies to reporting and law enforcement.

"Like the Silon (candidate information system) problem, I'm sorry, Bawaslu must report KPU members to DKPP," stressed Totok.

Apart from that, Totok is aware of the huge and complex nature of the 2024 Indonesian Simultaneous Elections. In line with Bawaslu's limitations, the function of monitoring election violations must be expanded to include the involvement of civil society. Bawaslu's mutual cooperation supervision includes expanding access and support for civil society to become election observers at every level, from the center to polling station supervisors (TPS). Organizations where civil society is active can also become election monitoring institutions accredited by Bawaslu.

The leader of the UGM Student Council, Maskana Putri, believes that the democratic quality of election results is also determined by young voters. Voters aged 17–40 years, who number more than 50%, have the challenge of how to consume election information well so that it can be used as a consideration in determining the choice of candidate or political party in the election.

Maskana hopes that young voters can learn from the previous election. Don't let young voters be used as mere objects of vote-getting by election participants. Young voters should be more rational and critical and use more reliable sources of information. Don't make more emotional choices.

UGM Faculty of Social and Political Sciences academic Mada Sukmajati said that where democracy is going, it is important to be reminded of the context of the democracy and freedom index, which has continued to fall from 2012 to 2023 (Freedom House and The Economist). According to him, it is important for us to refer to what has been explained in the book How Do Democracies Die?".

"Previously, political studies did not think that the state of democracy in a country could decline significantly or even die. "To avoid this, we are reminded to close down the possibility of electing political officials who doubt democracy, hinder freedom and openness, and allow violence and even commit violence," stressed Mada.

Academician of the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, University of Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta, Bambang Eka, said that one of the variables measured in the democracy index is political culture. In this variable, Indonesia is still not doing well, one reason being the rise of money politics. In practice, money politics involves election participants and voters, so if these two actors move away from money politics, it will determine the quality of democracy.

"At the elite level, the election law has given the current Bawaslu great authority to handle money politics. What will Bawaslu do at the level of prevention and action? said Eka, challenging Bawaslu.

Member of the UGM Fisipol Student Council, Raihan Malcolm, is of the view that students, as young voters, have a big role in optimizing campaigns on campus as a consequence of the Constitutional Court's decision. The KPU has challenges in preparing regulations to guarantee campus neutrality. Bawaslu also has the challenge of ensuring that there are no violations committed by election participants, the KPU, or even the campus itself.

"Campaigning on campus is also very likely to result in election violations," said Raihan. []