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Race Cheating: Starting the Campaign Before Its Time

Race Cheating: Starting the Campaign Before Its Time

The simultaneous general elections to be held in 2024 are just months away. Supporters are starting to close ranks. They began to strengthen volunteers, communities, and WhatsApp groups.

Although the activities carried out may be considered as campaigning, the institution responsible for preventing and prosecuting election violations lacks a strong legal basis to prohibit them, as the election schedule has not yet been set. Additionally, the General Elections Commission (KPU) of the Republic of Indonesia has not yet determined the presidential candidates.

The KPU Chairman, Hasyim As'yari, acknowledged that the KPU lacks the authority to restrict election volunteer operations. As'yari explained that such actions from candidate volunteer groups in the year preceding the election are customary.

"What is known as friendship is a positive aspect that promotes relationships.  The Prophet states that friendship has two benefits: it can extend one’s life and open doors of opportunity. This opportunity can be in the form of position or power. Speaking to journalists on Monday, January 1, 2023, he said.

According to him, it cannot be called campaigning because the registration has not happened yet. If the activities of the supporters are to be considered as a campaign, then it is an implication that they have been finalized as candidates. However, there has been no registration or finalization of presidential candidates as far as the news reports go.

However, it is a fact on the ground that there are indirect restrictions on the activities of the supporters of potential candidates, as can be seen with the  Anies' followers in Aceh. A WhatsApp group (WAG) led by Sismono La Ode, the head of the Bala Anies volunteers, suddenly became noisy. They are members of the Anies Baswedan volunteer group, discussing the cancellation of the gathering and healthy walk activities.

The event was originally scheduled to take place at the Sultanah Safiatuddin Park in Banda Aceh on November 28, 2022. But just two days before the event, the Aceh Culture and Tourism Office (Disbudpar) revoked the permit to use the venue. Volunteers in the group were stunned to learn about the cancellation of the event, which was declared due to the location of the activity being used", stated Sismono to on December 16, 2022.

After the cancellation of the event, volunteers faced difficulties in finding a new location. In the end, the Baiturrahman Mosque in Aceh was chosen as the venue. Sismono (as he is known) is grateful that the change of location did not deter supporters from attending the event: "Hundreds of followers came and were truly enthusiastic."  Some individuals even requested to take a picture. We believe that the Anies present in Aceh is needed," he said.

It was not uncommon for events featuring Anies to be canceled in a number of different regions. According to Sismono, Anies was banned from performing in Kalimantan, Pekanbaru, and East Java in October-November 2022. "even a banner of prohibition was seen in East Java," Sismono said.

"Like it was systematic. It seems to us that the attempt to stop Anies is part of a panic because there is no bad track record of Anies," he continued.

Less than a week after Anies started campaigning in Aceh, a resident reported Anies to the Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) on Friday, December 2, 2022. The reason given was that the former Governor of DKI Jakarta was suspected of having cheat to start the Election Campaign. The complaint was submitted under the report number 001/LP/PL/RI/00.00/XII/2022.

However, Bawaslu's assessment was that the report was not in compliance with the requirements because there was no evidence in the report. "The report submitted by the complainant does not meet the material conditions," said Puadi, Bawaslu RI's Violence Management, Data and Information Department Coordinator, in a press conference on Thursday, December 15, 2022.

The report was declared to be in compliance with formal requirements only, while the alleged violation in Bawaslu must be in compliance with both formal and substantive requirements at the same time. This was because, according to Puadi, the KPU had not yet determined the participants in the election at the time. "Bawaslu has also instructed Panwaslih Aceh Provincial to investigate the information and events that have been presented through the visits of relevant parties for interrogation," said Puadi. 


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