Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Indonesia’s Post-poll blues

Today it is the shamans and the shrinks (in that order) who are reaping the benefits of the post-election period, following the brief boom in the economy whipped up by orders for banners, billboards and T-shirts.

The reports in the wake of voting day on April 9 would have been hilarious if they were not so tragic — the news of the suicide of a legislative candidate and a candidate’s campaign strategist following the local tallying up of the vote.

Based on previous election experiences, a number of special wards had been set up in the localities to anticipate distressed candidates, but they are likely far than enough given the majority of the 200,000 candidates across the nation who were more than likely on the losing side in national, local and regional representative bodies.

Medics in Taipei have long described symptoms appearing after each election as “post-election stress syndrome”, in which “sufferers are in the grip of an ‘adjustment disorder’ — mental distress caused by a disruption in one’s view of reality”, a report said.

The signs of depression look no different from any other kind of stress, except of course that after April 9, simultaneous reports of individuals with such symptoms cropped up in various areas.

One failed candidate hacked up all of his neighbor’s coconuts for sale and drunk from them, one report said, while another wandered around naked and others swiftly sought spiritual and psychological counsel to avoid going berserk.

Unsurprisingly, they had experienced a major “disruption” of their reality. Many had thought that contributions and hard cash — from a candidate’s campaign reserves of a few billion rupiah — would translate into votes for them. The common wisdom, however, has been to accept all the cash and vote for whoever catches your fancy.

Pre-election days have become lucrative for residents as they accept contributions and cash from all quarters without the fear of being watched before and after voting, unlike in the New Order days.

The Constitutional Court has ruled that next election year in 2019 will see the simultaneous organizing of the legislative and presidential election. Observers are hoping elections will be less costly, but the impact on the candidates is yet to be seen.

Without the legislative and presidential threshold, parties might have less incentive to provide basic campaign capital to their candidates, leaving the political aspirants on their own, like they are today.

Less stress on the part of candidates will depend on earlier investment in political support, meaning much less cost as election day nears. Those wishing to contest in 2019 will not have to throw around too much cash and seek all sorts of funding for their candidacies if they start today by serving the public and increasing their credibility.

There will be less election economic overspill for spiritual and psychological counselors, fewer jokes circulating about failed candidates’ antics and hopefully more calm in the wake of vote counts. Jakarta Post

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