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Vote buying less rampant in Indonesia's presidential race

Money politics, or the practice of influencing voters with cash or gifts, could be less rampant in Indonesia's presidential race compared to its legislative elections in April.

MEDAN: Money politics, or the practice of influencing voters with cash or gifts, could be less rampant in Indonesia's presidential race compared to its legislative elections in April.

Political analysts said this is because massive vote-buying will hurt the credibility of the country's next elected president.

Sulaiman Marpaung, a 30-year-old deliveryman, has been approached many times by contesting candidates in past elections -- he was asked to vote for them in exchange for "gifts".

He said: "It depends on individuals. If I'm given groceries, or money, I will take it. I feel happy getting freebies."

An Indonesian Corruption Watch report shows that the second highest number of cases of vote-buying during April's legislative elections happened in North Sumatra.

Political analysts believe vote buying will not be as rampant in the presidential elections -- one reason being that the April legislative elections involved thousands of candidates, but there are only two candidates in these elections. It is also about winning the election with credibility.

Dr Warjio, from the department of political science in the University of North Sumatra, said: "If his accountability is low, he will not get the trust of the people, he will not get the trust of institutions, and the country."

Observers have also warned against election officials meddling with vote counts, which has happened in the past.

Ahmad Taufan Dinamik of the University of North Sumatra, said: "They change the number that the candidates got in the real election. Sometimes they mark up the number from 100 to 200, or sometimes they take the number of a candidate and give it to another candidate."

The competition for the presidential race has been intense, and there are concerns the candidates will do whatever it takes to win.

Dr Shohibul Anshor Siregar from the Faculty of Social and Politics at Muhammadiyah University of North Sumatra, said: "The people behind the two candidates have an extraordinary motive, and they will do anything to win. What alarms me is that they see the objective of winning as something which cannot be compromised."

Analysts believe more needs to be done to stop the practice of buying votes, which will improve the electoral process. At the same time, Indonesians could be more aware of the importance of their right to vote, without succumbing to the pressure of external influences. 

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