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The Jakarta Post
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Editorial: The circus begins

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

| Mon, March 17, 2014 | 10:53 am

Sunday marked the beginning of three weeks of nationwide open election campaigning '€” street rallies, public meetings and advertising aplenty '€” for the 12 national political parties and the three local parties in Aceh province contesting this year'€™s general election.

As part of the '€œrules of the game'€, the General Elections Commission (KPU) has regulated that each of the 12 political parties will have the opportunity to hold seven campaign events in each of the country'€™s 77 electoral districts between March 16 and April 5. In total, a party will be able to stage up to 539 campaign events over
21 days.

While all the election participants have apparently readied themselves physically and financially for the
massive movement of their election machines, the public '€” particularly motorists who regularly use
thoroughfares and major roads '€” will very likely suffer from severe traffic jams during events as they pass
through campaign sites, which will be crowded with party supporters and spectators occupying parts of the adjacent roads.

Those busy times would exclude the physical movement of party supporters after the end of each open campaign session and during the street rallies.

Unless the relevant authorities take necessary anticipatory measures against such massive gatherings and street rallies, including finding the most suitable locations for outdoor gatherings of party supporters
that would help prevent or at least reduce potential traffic jams, and disseminate information on alternative routes so motorists can escape traffic calamity, we will still see the same old traffic problems over the next three weeks.

Traffic jams, however, are not the main concern related to the five-yearly political fiesta as the open election campaign period has repeatedly been the fiery subject of debate.

Not only has it drawn strong criticism on its efficacy in luring potential voters to choose the respective parties organizing the open campaign sessions, such campaigning is obviously a huge waste of money for candidates and their parties.

Open campaigning contributes to high electoral costs for the government as well.

On the other hand, party supporters and businesses welcome the time as they often profit from the production of election materials and related supplies and provisions.

Supporters and spectators, mostly the poor, get free T-shirts and financial allowances for events they participate in.

Above the political frenzy people need to pay serious attention to the substance of the candidates'€™ and the parties'€™ messages and platforms.

Only then will they be able to make the right choice on voting day.

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