Aceh Young Voter


HERMAN is busy flipping through the pages of the newspapers. He is looking for news on presidential election. He looks grouchy. Swear words flow from his mouth.

It is because he cannot vote on July 8 2009. As a result, he cannot take part in deciding the next leader of the country.

In the last legislative election on April 9 2009, Herman is able to cast his vote for the first time of his life as an Indonesian citizen. At that time, he voted for Democrat Party (Partai Demokrat).

Now, he faces a different situation. The Constitutional Court (Mahkamah Konstitusi/MK) issues a decision sating that those who are not registered voters can only go to the ballots if they bring along their ID card and Kartu Keluarga (KK).

Herman arrives at Banda Aceh to take a National State University Selection Test (Seleksi Nasional Mahasiswa Perguruan Tinggi Negeri/SNMPTN) in Syiah Kuala University on July 1 and 2 2009 – a week before the 2009 presidential election. So bringing his Family Identity Card (Kartu Keluarga/KK) simply escapes his mind.

Herman is not alone. Two of his mates face similar situation. They are of the same age – 18 years old. They come from Aceh Singkil district and reside temporarily in the room rented by a university student friend.

Muhammad Mursyid Hidayah or Mursyid also share the same fate with Herman and his friends. He is from East Aceh district. He complains all the time because he cannot vote for his favorite candidate.

”I am truly disappointed. I went to the ballot this morning but they refuse to register me because I did not bring my KK,” he explains.

In the last legislative election, he went to the local ballot in his own village.

”I voted for Aceh Party (PArtai Aceh) at that time,” Mursyid admits.

If he were presented with the chance to vote in the presidential election, he would cast his vote for Jusuf Kalla, whom he views as an honest person.

Decision issued by the Constitutional Court (Mahkamah Konstitusi/MK) on the requirement to vote for presidential election triggers protests. One of the protesters is Rahmat Djailani, a member of Central Leadership Council (Dewan Pimpinan Pusat) of Aceh People’s Party (Partai Rakyat Aceh/PRA). He views that MK’s decision is meaningless in the process of democracy because many still lose their opportunities to vote anyway – including university students whose KKs are left in their hometowns.

Young voters in this country comprise of men and women age 17 to 21. So far no accurate date has been gathered on the number of young voters in Aceh. However it is predicted that it is rather substantial. In Malaysia for example, an article written by Karim Raslan on the Star newspaper titled “Expectations of Young Voters”, states that according to UN statistitcs, young voters under 24 years old in Malaysia is 53 per cent of the total population.

In Aceh, they are one of the promising targets for political parties. Here, campaign team of each candidate set up separate division to cater the need of this particular group of people.

Masyarakat Aceh pro Jusuf Kalla (Mapro-JK) for example, attracts the young voters through the means of Suara Kaum Muda untuk Jusuf Kalla (SUKA-JK) (Voices of the Young People for Jusuf Kala), a forum set up on June 12 2008. It targets individuals from various youth organizations and students.

Dozens of students from various universities in Aceh also form a group called Kelompok Geutanyoe Aceh Peumenang – Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (GAP-SBY), which actively recruits young people to become SBY supporters.

This sort of group is proven to be influential to the political choices of the young people. Some of the young voters, including Herman, make up their mind to vote for SBY because of the endorsements from senior university students.

”I follow the decisions from my seniors to vote for SBY,” he says. He views that SBY deserves another term for his leadership ability last period. .***


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