One and a half month from now Jakarta’s electorate will choose either incumbent governor Fauzi or challenger Jokowi to lead the metropolis in the next term. I bet the man from Solo will win the gubernatorial elections. If only because of the choice of his running mate.
In my perception Jokowi played the ethnic card in a smart and subtle way. Being a Christian of Chinese descent Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama will carry all Chinese-Indonesian votes (if we can believe the pollsters) and may well tip the balance. Ethnicity and religion ( and race and intergroup relations) shouldn’t be an issue – but they are.
The odds for Fauzi are negative. Some help would be welcome. He badly needs devoted groupies to do the tackles for him. Especially dirty tricks which are on the verge of playing with political fire.The next six or seven weeks are due to be tough. If you can’t stand the heat you’d better keep out of the kitchen. In this political arena you can’t win a trophy for fair play.
Weird as it may seem for a famous Dangdut performer but Rhoma Irama actually did reveal himself as that kind of Fauzi groupie. He in a desperate effort to help the present governor, stated, facing an audience of fans and supporters ( I assume they were fans and supporters), they should only vote for candidates of their own religion. In other words don’t vote Jokowi because with him a Christian will be in the local centre of administrative power. So the Singer played a controversial card.
He may have persuaded a number of people. But unlike Jokowi the way he did it was blunt. Not smart neither subtle. And he was legally offside. His speech caused a storm of indignation. I guess that by the negative publicity fallout the number of voters he pushed to Jokowi will vastly outnumber the ones he convinced. I’m afraid he in the end did render the present governor a huge disservice.
The performer himself has been blamed for negative campaigning. He has been questioned by and is under investigation from Jakarta Election Supervisory Committee (Panwaslu). And turned into an injured cry baby in the process.
With that kind of friends Fauzi needs no enemies.
Yet the public indignation is odd. After all elections, democratic elections, are about convincing people that voting you in office is in the best interest of all citizens. That you’ve got visions, plans, personality and abilities which are superior. And it also is about making clear the competitor is a disastrous alternative. To point that out, to communicate that to the electorate, everything is allowed which is not explicitly forbidden. Anything, low brow and high brow, nice and mean, to get them on your side.
Of course intellectual pauperism is deplorable. And no doubt it is nothing but intellectual pauperism if the debate deteriorates to issues like ethnic descent and religion of the candidates. But then democracy is not exclusively for academics. If Obama can weather accusations, lies, by American Christian fundamentalist that he is a secret Muslim ( religion card) and by Republican Birthers that he can’t be a legal President because he even isn’t a born American (ethnic-nationalistic card), why shouldn’t Jokowi and the Jakarta electorate shrug their shoulders about some singer who blundered in the local political arena and calls on people to vote exclusively for fellow believers, even if they are incompetent?
It’s just part of the game.