Bogor, W Java (ANTARA News) - Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo has hinted that the participation rate is a serious challenge of the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections, due to be held simultaneously throughout the country on April 17.

The Home Ministry has set a target of the upcoming elections` participation rate will reach at least 77.5 percent of the total number of eligible voters that, according to the General Elections Commission (KPU), will reach at least 192 million.

This targeted participation rate is higher than that of the 2009 and 2014 general elections, which was recorded at 71 and 74 percents respectively.

Indonesia experienced a high participation rate in the 2004 general elections, which was recorded at 84 percent.

Considering the importance of this participation rate, Tjahjo Kumolo warned that the key of success in convening the upcoming general elections lies in it.

Therefore, this issue really matters in this year`s elections, Tjahjo Kumolo told the attendees of the police and military`s coordinated meeting in Jakarta on Monday.

In obtaining this targeted participation rate, the Ministry of Home Affairs had prepared strategies by ensuring that the first-time voters who had yet to get their electronic identification cards could cast their votes in ballot booths.

The first-time voters` position seems to be important to help increase the participation rate because their number is relatively high.

According to the Home Affairs Ministry`s Directorate General of Population and Civil Registration Agency, there have been 5,035,887 first-time voters who would be 17 years old on January 1, 2018 up to April 17, 2019.

To make sure that these first-time voters were able to participate in the upcoming elections, the Home Ministry`s officials had make various efforts, including coming to schools, university campuses, and Islamic boarding schools to register them for ID cards.

Tjahjo Kumolo revealed that his ministry has initiated to help register these first-time voters` ID cards by coming to their schools.

The ministry`s efforts to increase the participation rate were also made through such strategies as voter education and media campaigns, as well as setting holiday on voting day.

Apart from the Home Ministry`s endeavor to ensure that all eligible voters, including more than five million millennials who will become the first-time voters, can cast their votes, those belonging to the "Golput" need also be anticipated.

In minimizing their number, the Indonesian Ulema Council`s (MUI) Advisory Body has called on Muslims all over the country to avoid "Golput," an abbreviation for "White Group," or those abstaining from voting in the upcoming general elections.

Instead, all Muslims who are eligible voters are encouraged to come to the polling stations on April 17, 2019, because leadership is an important matter in Islam, KH Hasan Abdullah Sahal, a member of the council`s advisory body, stated recently.

"The leadership cannot be left behind. Therefore, please do not abstain from voting. Belonging to the `Golput` means that someone is ignorant."

"This behavior is not justifiable," he noted, adding that Islam teaches its followers to become responsible people.

Abstaining from casting votes in the elections shows ignorance that would only bring about regret and disappointment. Hence, all Muslims in Indonesia are urged to use their voting rights in the upcoming elections.

The upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections were not merely regarded as a feisty of democracy, but were also perceived as a mandate of leadership of the people.

Taking the significance of this democratic process into account, the Muslim community members, who have rights to vote, are required to exercise their voting rights.

Hasan Abdullah Sahal also warned that having different political preferences were acceptable in democracy. Therefore, the community members should be mature enough to face the differences and must not be easily provoked.

"Do not let the event, which is just held once in five years, damage and put our everlasting brotherhood at risk," he explained.

Former Constitutional Court Justice Mahfud MD also echoed the similar message when speaking at at a public lecture of the Mataram State University (Unram) on "increasing the quality of democracy through simultaneous elections" on Feb 12.

Mahfud urged members of Unram`s academic community to maintain peace and cast their votes in the upcoming general elections because the eligible voters were given opportunities to select their favorable members of parliament and a new pair of president and vice president.

In this chairman of the Nationhood Torch Movement`s point of view, the eligible voters had rights to have different political preferences. "In elections, having different choices is acceptable. But, all should accept those who have been elected."

However, the winners should not be abusive, while the losers must not be disruptive. Instead, the entire nation should work together to preserve the existence of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia as a God`s gift.

Apart from the fact that democracy was not an ideal system of government, it was the best of all existing systems at the moment, Mahfud, who is also a member of the Agency for the Implementation of State Ideology of Pancasila (BPIP), said.


Reporter: Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
Copyright © ANTARA 2019