A. Reflection of Ten Years Indonesian Reform: An Introduction
Reformation Movement (1998) has altered almost entire aspects of life in Indonesia. Political system, governance, economic, and even law have reformed by a wave of social change, directed by college students and Indonesian people. By that time, the movement who was successfully terminated the existence of Soeharto’s dictatorial regime emerged and became a discourse. Various expectation also emerged from all sides to develop the nation life forward as has been commended by founding fathers in Preambles of UUD 1945.
However, the reformation activity has been coloured by various situation that generated a few internal problem in various things along journey of time. Democracy, which has been considered as a part of “reformation vision” cannot be implemented well in last ten years. Many frictions between many groups occurred, even in DPR which has been established as people representatives. It implicates commutation of national and local leaders that happened several times and produced conflict in political arena.
One of the friction that happens this year is about the changing of governor or regent in some provinces or regencies. There are some conflicts and controversies behind the election. We can see the case of election in Depok, West Java which was won by Dr. Nurmahmudi Ismail after a long and hard struggle. His challenger, Badrul Kamal was not pleased with ther result and send a protest to West Java Court of Justice (Pengadilan Tinggi Jawa Barat). Unpredictably, their protest had been accepted and The Court of Justice changed the result. The condition became strained when Nurmahmudi Ismail sent a winning claim to Mahkamah Agung for having a judicial review to the result. After his hard struggle, the Mahkamah Agung accept their judicial review because his evidence was stronger than Badrul Kamal’s evidence. Another case can be seen in Tuban, even it was more serious when the displeasure of the election result kindled a turbulence in the city.
In those case, we can see the vitality of agenda to evaluate our political system. One thing that should be changed is the paradigm of political system that put political party as a “single player” in election arena. In fact, I believe that there should be independent candidate who has capability to lead free from political party’s interest. It can reduce the risk of money politics or corruption in governor election. So, the independent candidate is one of an alternative way to implement the substantive democracy in Indonesia.
B. Historical Fact of Indonesian Politics
If we take a little look to our history, we can see that the domination of political party in Indonesia should be reduced. In 1950-1959, our parliamentary cabinet ‘fell and rose’ several times because of political intrigues from some political parties. Masyumi, PNI, and PKI, which were represented three ideological groups, involved in political conflicts at that time. Soekarno’s decision to disperse Konstituante by presidential decree on July 5th, 1959 did not make the situation better. His authority then fallen on 1966, after PKI announced G30S/PKI by abducting ten generals.
This condition did not exist for a long time. Soeharto, who substituted Soekarno for the position of president (after several turbulences and inflation during that era) did a mistake when he fused down the political parties into three parties: Golongan Karya, PDI, and PPP. The condition like this seemed to weaken the opposition and strengthen his power. It also means that Soeharto made himself a new-world dictator, who defended his power by “emasculating” his political enemy’s power. It also darkened the image of political parties in Indonesia, which have been misused several times by some irresponsible parties.
So, I assume that there should be alternative ways to implement “substantive democracy” in Indonesia.
C. Democracy in Indonesia: Hope and Reality
If we are talking about democracy, we should know about what the substance of democracy is. According to Budiarjo (1994), democracy considered as a political system which is controlled by whole population in the state. So, the authority is belonging to people, not to person. As a matter of fact, the authority has been given from the people to their representatives by the mechanism of general election. The representatives would claim the aspiration from their voters in House of Representative (DPR). By that, the person who wants to be a representative of people should use a political party as his/her media.
In Indonesia, democracy has not been settled as a substantive democracy. It is true that there are so many political parties which compete in Indonesia’s routine general election. But in fact, many of political parties manipulate their voters to legitimate their interests. Parliament, which originally considered as a media to implement democracy, changes onto a media to implement political interests of several parties. Political parties, following that fact, do not make the aspiration of their voters as their program, but as their media to produce money. There are so many political deals which damaged the substance of democracy in Indonesia itself. It implicates corruption as a logical consequence.
According to philosophy of democracy, there is an adagium that is very popular among our politicians: Vox Populi, Vox Dei. This adagium means that sound of people considered as ‘sound of God’ in democracy. So, people have a legitimacy to decide their future by themselves. There should not be any intervention from any person unless they have legitimacy by people.
We may not recognize this adagium as an obligation that should be implemented in a Moslem country. But in fact, this adagium clearly recommend that people’s voice is not only spoken by political parties. There are some alternative ways to implement the substance of democracy. So, we may say that in governor election, there should be independent candidates who have more capabilities to lead his/her people and trusted by people.
D. Positive Impacts of Independent Candidates
If the government legalize the existence of independent candidates, there are some positive impacts.
First, independent candidates can be trusted by people better than candidates from political party. We can see election result in Aceh. There are six couples of candidates fought; one of them was Irwandi Yusuf – Muhammad Nazar which was independent. They did not have any political party but having more than 3% of Aceh people who supported them. In the “fighting day”, almost none of political observer predicted them to win. But in result, they won.
This fact become an evidence that people does not always trust political party. After the election, we can see that there is no turbulence in Aceh. Although Irwandi Yusuf used to be a member of Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, there is no intension that Irwandi Yusuf will do any separatical effort for GAM. Even the contrary, he tries to persuade GAM for coming back to Republic of Indonesia.
This is the result of Pilkada Aceh:
Irwandi Yusuf – Muhammad Nazar (Independent Candidate)
Humam Hamid – Hasbi Abdullah
Malek Raden – Sayed Fuad Zakaria
Azwar Abubakar – Muhammad Nasir Jamil
Ghazali Abbas – Salahuddin Alfata
Iskandar Hoesin – Muhammad Saleh Manaf
Tamlicha Ali – Harmen Nuriqmar
Muhammad Djali Yusuf – Syauqas Rahmatillah
Second, independent candidate will offer many populist programs but having no deal with political party. In our country, political parties start to loose confidence with the people. We can see in Jakarta when KPUD noticed that not all citizen used their vote rights. We all know that in Jakarta Governor election there are only two candidates who fought in the election, Fauzi Bowo and Adang Daradjatun. Many academist questioning the absence of Sarwono Kusumaatmaja and Faisal Basri, who offered a realistic program to make Jakarta better than before.
The problem is actually simple: They do not make any political deal with any political party. Although they had many realistic and prosperous programs to offer, they could not join the election because of only having no deal with political party. Whereas, many parties do not doubt their integrity to lead Jakarta.
Third, the existence of independent candidates will open the chance for people to participate in political arena. If the government permits independent candidate to compete in election, people will not see politics as “a kind of bad thing” anymore. They will consider politics as a media to express their aspiration. As long as the government keep controlling the mechanism of election, there will not be any political disorder in governor election.
Even the allowance of independent candidates will increase people’s spirit to participate in politics. “Participating” here does not only mean as applying for the candidate. “Participating” can mean expression of people’s aspiration in order to make crucial sectors of development better than before. Here, the existence of independent candidate will be very useful to motivate people to participate in development.
E. The Negative Sides
The existence of independent candidates also being questioned by some people. They have an argument that independent candidate will have no power in house of representative (DPRD) because there is no political party supporting their programs. If there is no consolidation between the governor from independent candidate and the parliament, the development will be impeded, even the government can loose people’s confidence.
It is true, but as long as the independent candidate is consistent with his/her commitment in Pilkada and do his/her job based on the principles of Good Governance and Clean Government, it does not matter. The independent candidates should show a hardwork and consistency during his period if he won the election. If there are any frictions between him and DPRD, the candidate should show patience and political maturity to end the conflict. So, there should be a capability by the independent candidate to manage conflict.
Another reason is the heterogenity of people in Indonesia. There will be many interest and platform that can block idealism of independent candidate. It is also true, but as long as independent candidate can control the conflict and capable to manage the people, it also will not bother too much. One that the candidate should do is making a priority scale during his period. Also, two-ways communication is very urgent in order to avoid conflict made by the heterogeneity itself.
F. Conclusion : Will Independent Candidates Exist?
So, there is no reason for the government not to legalize independent candidate. Not just because of the urgency to implement substantive democracy, but also to emerge people’s spirit to envolve in development. As long as the government could manage the mechanism of independent candidate to compete in election, there will be no hard obstacle in it.
Thus, according to Theodore Roosevelt, democracy should be progressive. Manifestation of progressive and substantive democracy in Indonesia can be seen by legalizing independent candidate. Remember, we have many rights, and it is our time to build our country better than before.
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