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Independence is key to voter confidence


21 February 2014

Independence is key to voter confidence

The article “Governor Jokowi: A Choice, not an Echo” published in this newspaper on February 6 attracted attention, both positive as well as negative. As in all democratic propositions, opinion must be divided. Some valid reactions to a Jokowi presidential candidacy are based on the concern that it would be difficult to get off the ground as the PDIP matriarch, Megawati, is not necessarily open to the idea unless she is assured control of the party ticket by having her proxy as the running mate.

The article is not really about Jokowi but about the need for drastic action on climate change, which requires a paradigm shift away from politics as usual. It is about citizens making a choice for concerted action. We invite political engagement – voting - to meet the crucial challenges of this and the next generation.

The fundamental problem today is greed, exemplified by the two leading candidates-to-be for the presidency. Politics is the instrument of greed. But politics is also the instrument for reform.

The 2014 election year is an excellent opportunity for citizens to exercise a choice. Do we want to risk a return to strong state power and human rights abuse and the continuation of corruption graft and governments? Or will voters opt for a fresh start with fresh candidates.

At this moment Jokowi is apparently the only person who could effectively generate enough electoral power to dislodge the grip that menu and corrupt ethic have on the political system. Voters despair to such a degree that they even find hope in the most unlikely people to run for parliamentary seats.

The opportunity to elect Jokowi brings important challenges. An important consideration is what would happen should Jokowi leave his gubernatorial position. By law Ahok would automatically ascend to the governorship. The Vice Governorship would be vacant until the next elections. Some people see that as a problem, and some people see that as a political opportunity

Obviously it would be a great opportunity for the Gerindra party which officially is the backer of Ahok. It is a matter of concern that recently Ahok staged widely publicized visits to Prabowo Subianto’s home and had a long talk followed by a public declaration of mutual loyalty.

If the impression strengthens that Ahok is a loyalist of Prabowo, it would cause a serious weakening of credibility. Ahok has a public image based on action, independence and loyalty to the people. Loss of perceived independence will mean loss of credibility.

Reminding people that Ahok is not his own man is not necessarily helpful Ahok’s credentials as successor Governor. It would indeed be damaging to a Jokowipresidential nomination if this contributes to a loss of independence

The issue of independence and credibility of the two most popular public officials in Jakarta is paramount. They must take care not to lose the support of the people by exposing their dependence on the political party bosses.

People are voting against greed, human rights abuse, and corruption. We need a clean slate to deal with the pressing problems of climate change. It will not be a campaign for Jokowibut a campaign against cynical politicians.

It will be a rejection of unpalatable choices, rather than the coronation of the brightest in the land.

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