Ni Komang Erviani , The Jakarta Post , Denpasar | Tue, 12/30/2008 11:01 AM | Bali
Legislative candidates vying for seats in the House of Representatives (DPR) and the Bali Provincial Legislative Council (DPRD) continue to neglect cultural values in their campaigns, a discussion in Denpasar concluded Saturday.
Titled “Transforming the 2009 Election into a Cultural Attraction”, experts criticized legislative candidates as ignorant of cultural values in their campaign methods.
“I’m not sure these legislative candidates have a clear, basic understanding of elections, considering the way they are displaying their campaign attributes on trees and along the sidewalks,” said Ketut Putra Erawan, a political observer from the Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, and the Director of the peace and democracy institute at Udayana University, Bali.
“Apparently it’s all about who’s got the biggest banner.”
He said the “irresponsible” placement of party logos and candidate information did not reflect Bali’s cultural values.
“If they want to campaign well then they must pay attention to the local culture. It would be easier for the public to accept them if they would have personal dialogues with their potential voters rather than by just displaying their faces on huge banners.”
He reminded parties to pay attention to these values because “it is a basic element of any election. If culture is not a part of an election, then the people will feel alienated from the campaign”.
Former head of Bali Elections Commission (KPUD) Anak Agung Oka Wisnumurthi also criticized the candidates’ campaign methods which he called a “race on banner size”.
“This is a major concern because it shows the candidates pay no attention to local culture,” he said.
He called the race on banner size a reflection of the election’s increasingly capitalistic values.
“Those putting up the flags are all paid people, not party cadres. It’s obvious they think that whoever has the most money, wins,” he said.
Wisnumurthi said election participants should commit to a cultural approach, such as packaging the campaign as a cultural attraction which could bring more international tourists.
“If they want to be accepted by the people, then they should use local culture to attract their constituents.
“And it’s not just about the arts, but values that reach out to every aspect of a person’s life.”
I Gde Parimartha, an expert on Balinese culture from Udayana University, said a cultural election could be a key to success in the 2009 election.
“Direct election is a new culture for us, something that we have adopted from other cultures.
“Thus, it needs to be combined with national and local cultures to be acceptable to the people,” he said.
Bali KPUD plans to promote the 2009 campaign season as a cultural attraction by turning it into an art festival, to be held at the Werddhi Budaya Art Center in Denpasar.
“We’ll turn this campaign into a festival, with art exhibits and shows,” said Bali KPUD head, Ketut Sukawati Lanang Perbawa.
“Our goal is to ensure that next year it will be a peaceful campaign with a cultural approach.”
As many as 801 legislative candidates from 36 political parties and 30 candidates for the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) will compete to win over Balinese voters during the official campaign period which runs from March 16 to April 5 of next year. Voting will be held on April 9.