Editorial : Golput - Civil Disobedience or Freedom Of Speech?

Almost a week ago, I cast my vote for the 2009 Presidential Election. There were three presidential tickets in the competition for the RI-1. The first ballot was Megawati-Prabowo, endorsed by Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDIP) and Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra). Megawati ran for the 2004 Presidential Election, but lose in second round. Meanwhile, Prabowo tried the Golkar Presidential Convention in 2004, but lose to Wiranto.

The next ballot was the incumbent, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) who took the (former) Bank Indonesia’s Governor, Boediono, as his running mate. They were endorsed by Democratic Party, Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), National Awakening Party (PKB), National Mandate Party (PAN), and dozens of parties that did not pass the electoral threshold.

The last ballot was also the incumbent, sitting Vice President Jusuf Kalla who took Wiranto as his vice-president candidate, who endorsed by Party of Functional Groups (Golkar) and People’s Conscience Party (Hanura). Wiranto was also known as presidential candidate in 2004, but lose in first round.

As for today, the General Election Commission (KPU) has not released the election result. The percentage of cast input only reached 80 percent or less. SBY-Boediono, is still leading with 60 percent of the vote, whilst Megawati-Prabowo comes in second place, followed by JK-Wiranto. This result has been predicted by most of the pollster. On the other hand, the organizations that held quick count, have released their result, which put SBY-Boediono as the winner of 2009 Presidential Election with 55-60 percent voters.

Related to the Presidential Election event, a debate was occurred between me and my friend(s) in Facebook page status. A real debate with analysis and argument only happened with one of my friend, and the rest just different perspectives without further discussion. The debate was talking about “white click” or known as “golput” in Bahasa. I’m the one who supported Golput, and my friend that opposed it.

My support to golput movement was clearly implemented in last Presidential Election. Even though I went to the voting booth, I never actually voted for some candidates. I just glued the ballot on purpose, and gave it to the officer. It’s a practical joke and somehow showed that I'm a big supporter of Golput. Why exactly I still go the the voting booth, is another question that I can answer later.

The debate was started when my friend put an announcement and advice into his Facebook status. He said, “Mari Sukseskan Pemilu dengan cara menggunakan hak pilih kita di TPS masing2...Untuk Indonesia..Jangan GOLPUT!"

I was intrigued by this. As a big fan of golput since 2008, I couldn't stand myself to argue his opinion. The debate showed a really different approach between the two of us on the right to vote. I asserted that golput is not a mistake, neither legally, morally, nor politically. I argued that golput was in fact one of the human rights (the freedom of speech) and no-one can’t complain about this. It even shows a beautiful side of democracy.

My friend, however, told me that golput shows some civil disobedience, when intellectual people rather to sit quietly and threw some critics to politician than to make a difference with go to the voting booth and cast their vote. Furthermore, he said that golput could made the government lose its political legitimate, and it’s not good for a state that have illegitimate government.

It's worth to know that the Golput movement was initialized in 1970s by some activists, led by a long-known activist Arief Budiman in Jakarta. It was made as a resistance movement against the system in that time. The activists said that the government did not make any significant change that should be made after the fall-out of The Old Order.

This movement grew up inside the intellectuals that constantly became unofficial opposition for many years, especially to fight the authoritarian regime led by General Soeharto.

When the Reformation Movement had its momentum in 1998, many people hope that this will be the beginning of a new era, where corruption, collusion, and nepotism (KKN) will not be seen again. The real democracy also had its hope up, after 30 years isolated by the military regime. But this hope is shortly lived.

The public is indeed got their freedom to speech, and nothing will stop them whether it's kidnapping, mysterious shooting (petrus), or mysterious death (matius). The Constitution also had its own change. There were four amendments had been made during 1999-2002 term. The Constitution established new form of governments, where the legislative, executive, and judicial branch are equal to each other. Therefore, the checks and balances running wisely. 

But the changes only stop in documents. The realities still shows the New Order condition, where KKN still had its glory. The politicians is still had the same habit with those who came from the New Order. This condition had made some kind of frustration inside the Indonesian people. Then, the golput became a realistic option for those who disappointed with political appointees and related peoples.

Is it true that Golput was an act of civil disobedience? Or is it merely freedom of speech that guaranteed by our Constitution?

Golput does not mean to disobey the civil duty, because it’s a form where democracy executed. Golput were meant to be a movement which reminds people, that something is going wrong about our political life. Either it’s the education about politics, the habit of the politicians, wrong policies, or the exercise of the general election itself.

It is not a form of ignorance, because through golput we made some analysis why we are did not use our right to vote. For example, golput gives a logical and rational reason why someone cannot be elected to public office, whilst most of the people just fascinated with the package of some individuals (e.g. handsomeness, gesture, and self-image).

It is also a movement to remind the KPU that they did not do their job very well. KPU should be ensured that each of Indonesian citizens have the same right to vote. Furthermore, the system that they made to operate the general election, should be minimized from a chance to take side for some candidates. Without the golput, KPU could be ignoring all of this fact.

Besides KPU, the politicians and political party are also become the main target of golput. A lot of people who became politician and claimed that they represent the voice of the people, actually just a bunch of opportunist who want to gain material profit form their job as people’s representatives.

Political party is only a place where elitist, “the have”, and opportunist, obtain profits for themselves and neglect the people who should be heard by them. With golput, this kind of habit can be minimized, because golput had opened the rotten facts about politicians and political party. This effort will remind the people to be more becareful and critical with their choice.

Golput is good. It shows the beauty of democracy, it reminds people not to make a wrong choice, and it’s guaranteed by the law. Golput also prevent the tyrant to gain its power by analytical argument, logical-rational reasons, and the freedom of speech.

So, why most of the people still see this as a civil disobedience? Because their most of them are not aware enough to comprehend the mistakes that had been made by the KPU or politicians/political parties. And a part of them still believes that using the right to vote is better than golput. Well, we cannot blame them for make such choice, but at least we have remind them.

Golput is not a form of self-righteousness, it is merely a form of careness to make our political life grow better and better. Golput is not a crime, it is merely a movement to remind people that a lot of mistake that going on out there. Golput is not a civil disobediences, it is merely a freedom of speech.


  1. pertanyaan selanjutnya adalah bagaimana caranya mengubah rezim yg korup dan despot itu? betul, golput memang hak, dan betul golput jg bs mengingatkan kpu, politisi dan partai agar tidak main2 dgn suara rakyat. tp yg penting kan bagaimana mengubah keadaan itu dan golput ternyata juga gagal mengubah.

  2. cara untuk mengubahnya macam2. toh, alasan untuk menjadi golput pun tidak serupa antara satu orang dengan orang yang lainnya.

    Kalau ukurannya gagal mengubah keadaan, berarti semua yang kita lakukan pun tidak ada yang berhasil mengubah. apakah dengan menggunakan hak pilih, kondisi kita berubah? tidak.

    ada kawan2 yang menginginkan terjadinya perubahan dengan cara yang cukup revolusioner dan radikal, misalnya melalui nasionalisasi perusahaan tambang, membentuk pemerintahan rakyat miskin, dsb.

    tapi saya sendiri memiliki kepercayaan bahwa perubahan dapat diinisiasi dengan diperkuatnya peran KPK dan Pengadilan Tipikor dalam kehidupan berbangsa dan bernegara. mengapa? karena dengan meminimalisasi korupsi, maka kesempatan kita untuk maju akan semakin terbuka lebar. Anggaran pendidikan tidak lagi bocor, anggaran pengembangan UMKM tidak lagi dipotong sana-sini, pemberdayaan petani dan nelayan semakin optimal, adanya peningkatan kesejahteraan pegawai negeri sipil, memperluas kesempatan usaha bagi wiraswasta domestik, dan lainnya. Tentu penguatan KPK dan Pengadilan Tipikor mesti diimbangi melalui peran serta masyarakat, misalnya dengan tidak memberikan "uang damai" ketika ditilang polisi, atau tidak lagi "menembak" dalam pembuatan KK, KTP, SIM, dan keperluan administrasi lainnya.

    Ada yang bilang permasalahan kita terlalu rumit dan seperti lingkaran setan. tapi saya sendiri percaya, kalau kita berani untuk mengambil langkah dalam sebuah masalah saja (misalnya korupsi), maka seluruh masalah pun akan terselesaikan satu per satu.

  3. @ Eka :

    wah, sayang sekali, saya tidak bisa melihat blog anda.


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