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Where's the Party?

Where's the Party

Can somebody tell me what happened to the election? If I remembered correctly, after we patiently put up with months of campaign overload, a surfeit of election debates and turgid promises, we all went to the polling stations cheerfully like good responsible democratic citizens to cast our votes and choose our leader.

Then we waited for the results with bated breath.

Good thing we had the Quick Count. Not one, but several versions. As it happened every one of them pointed to SBY as the clear winner with a majority of over sixty percent of the total votes. Not surprisingly since previous surveys done by bona fide survey institutions had all indicated more or less the same outcome.

Surely we had a winner by a landslide?

Not so fast, we were told. Hold the congratulations. Don’t even begin the celebrations. Only the Election Commission or the KPU could announce the proper result and declare a candidate the winner. The Quick Count results were not the official counts. Never mind that they were never wrong in the past. Could it be that the surveys and Quick Counts were just figment of the media’s imagination fuelled by some evil pollsters conspiring to manipulate the results for a certain end?

Even the president fell prey to the conspiracy paranoia. Could the hotel bombings be related to the election results and that very strong possibility of him winning? He postulated. Were there people out there willing to resort to desperate measures in order not to see him lead the country again? SBY could be forgiven for reacting rather tearfully. After all, the election went surprisingly smoothly and peacefully. The result was so obviously in his favour. So where’s the love? Where are the smiles?

Instead a bunch of killjoy terrorists spoiled the party. Not to mention his long-faced political opponents eager for every opportunity to rub the incumbent’s snooty nose in the mud. No chance of felicitations coming from their direction. Especially when they still harboured the slim hope that come the official count, they might just garner enough votes to bring the election to a second round.

As it turned out, to nobody’s surprise, the official results counted manually, laboriously and painstakingly by the KPU, merely confirmed the results of the Quick Counts to practically a hundred percent accuracy. SBY won the presidential election by a huge margin of over sixty per cent of the votes.

A clear winner by any standard. World popular US President Barack Obama didn’t even get that percentage when he was elected, boasted SBY’s campaign team.

So, could we pop the champagne now? After all, we’ve just elected a legitimate president to lead us hopefully to greater peace and prosperity for the next five years. Some congratulations are definitely in order here and perhaps even some flag waving and shouts of ‘lanjutkan’. This is definitely no small achievement.

Yes, there had been plenty of irregularities in the election process, and they should be addressed and accounted for. But it is doubtful they would impact the final results of the election. The winner has been officially declared and the losers should concede gracefully. That’s what competition is all about. Better luck next time.

Obviously not for our politicians. Far from accepting their defeats gracefully, the losing presidential candidates not only refused to be present at the official announcement of the election results, but out-rightly rejected them, believing them to be fraught with fraud and hence should be contested for the sake of the country’s democracy.

I suppose it is too much to ask them to pen some graceful conceding speeches in the manner of US presidential candidate Mc Cain upon his defeat to Obama. After all Indonesia’s presidential election was a direct one and the people had clearly spoken. And what’s that about the voice of the people being the voice of God?

This crude display of bad sportsmanship and statesmanship at the highest level is truly disheartening for the entire country to behold. Just how much longer do we have to endure those pouts, sulks and tiresome protests from those sore losers? It’s not as if it would make any difference to the election results or make them champions of democracy.

What’s rather sad about this whole election saga is, not only are the people bereft of their much-deserved pride for a job well done but we also cease to have any appetite for rejoicing, wishing instead for this whole charade to end once and for all so we could all move on with our lives.

So, let’s put away the champagne bottles…

(Desi Anwar: first published in The Jakarta Globe)

 

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