Money Politics, the Roots of Councilman Corruption?

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YOGYAKARTA ( – A man with close-cropped hair and a white t-shirt sits in front of us. He is Iskan, currently running for legislative candidate in Gunungkidul Regency. On occasion, he smokes his cigarette while talking about his experience in participating in the past election contest.

Regardless he failed several times, but this did not stop Iskan from re-running in the next 2024 election. He has only one wish, to climb his social status by becoming an official.

“So this candidacy is pure to pursue existence,” said Iskan when met at his residence recently.

Then in the past 2014 elections, he returned to run for legislature in a different electoral area and failed again. In fact, he has already spent around Rp 500 million, assuming he can secure approximately 5,000 votes.

The amount of this money is mostly disseminated to constituents and hundreds of mass coordinators at the hamlet-sub-district level, with a spend of Rp 30 thousand – Rp 100 thousand per person. In fact, on the eve of the voting, he once spent Rp. 125 million from selling two cows.

He believes that this apathy and pragmatism in the midst of a crisis of public confidence in the people’s representatives had ignited money politics, resulting in extremely high political costs. “What would people get if they offered support from one Residents Association of residence and then demanded the commitment of Legislative Candidates?”

Agus B. Santoso, a political party official in Gunungkidul Regency, cannot deny that candidates with social capital alone are frequently defeated by those with money. He had that experience during the regional elections while he was Campaign Team.

“In fact, one of our candidates has built up social capital over the years,” Agus stated over the phone.

Using the ‘Mo Limo’ Strategy to Get Into Parliament

In contrast to the experience of a member of The House of Representative in Special Region of Yogyakarta (DIY), Imam Taufik. In the 2009 election, Imam became a legislative member of the Gunungkidul Regency for the first time. This brown-skinned man admitted that he received less than Rp. 50 million in funds from his family. He bought part of the funds for an operational car worth Rp. 25 million.

Imam is aware that limited capital makes him unable to engage in money politics, and he is reluctant to do so. The man who started his career in politics since 1998 chose a strategy of strengthening social capital, by being present in the community and assisting people in gaining access to government services. For him, it’s part of a five-year, mutually beneficial campaign.

“I call this the mo limo strategy. This means that the residents gave me five minutes of assistance. I helped them for five years,” he explains.

This strategy has been shown to be effective. Imam returned five years later to serve as a member of The House of Representeative in Gunungkidul Regency from 2014 to 2019. Furthermore, in the 2019 elections, Imam succeeded in moving up to the provincial level in the House of Representative of Special Region of Yogyakarta, with a total acquisition of 10,627 votes, and a capital of less than Rp. 100 million.

Imam admits that he has been interested in politics since he was in junior high school, by becoming a political party sympathizer. He was a member of the Student Representative Council (BPM) and the Jamaah Salahuddin UGM at college, where he met numerous political figures. This implanted in him a sense of political awareness.

The Origins of the High Political Costs Problem

Wasingatu Zakiyah from Women Anti-Corruption Yogyakarta believes that the Open Proportional Election System provides space for everyone to run for office. However, because most candidates lack broad support from a noteworthy mass base and solid social capital electoral costs are considerable. Because they have to pay for entry into a voter’s base.

The Executive Director of the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem), Khoirunnisa Nur Agustyati noted that the protracted procedure for political parties to participate in the election contributed to the high cost of politics, which led to money politics. The costs are enormous, and the political party’s resources are limited.

They also accept donations from individuals and corporations. Of course, the donation was not given for free. In the end, their primary priority was not to accomplish their vision and objective, but to repay the donor’s funds in every way possible to gain votes. One of which is money politics.

Money Politics Mode

There are various modes of money politics used by election participants to gain votes. A former DIY Bawaslu member, Sri Rahayu Werdiningsih, revealed that the most common way of distribution was the distribution of groceries, internet quota vouchers, and prize coupons.

“In Gunungkidul, on average, it takes the form of giving pocket cash and transportation money,” she explained.

The former Chairman of the Gunungkidul Bawaslu, Tri Asmiyanto, admitted that he had received a report on suspicion of money politics. Giving money for transportation is the technique. However, following an investigation, it was determined that there was no evidence of a money politics violation.

“Money politics is an election crime (TPP) so the evidence must fulfill all of the elements. “Our difficulties are in the subject, the action, and the timing,” Tri argued.

Member of Bawaslu DIY, Agung Nugroho does not dispute that there are regulatory issues in an election crime management, which has limited his authority in taking action..

Political Observer: Money Politics, the Roots of Councilman Corruption

Kurnia Ramadhana, Coordinator of The Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) Political Corruption Division, sees money politics as a critical issue that must be tackled. According to KPK corruption statistics, a third of the suspects designated by the KPK are political components, ranging from Members of The House of Representative in province/regency/city/Republic of Indonesia, and regional leaders.

Although its relationship with money politics has not yet been proved, according to him, money politics is an act of smoothing their steps as candidates, and they must repay this money politics.

Political observer at UIN Sunan Kalijaga Yogyakarta, Ahmad Norma Permata, has identified the money politics phenomenon one of the roots of corruption in this country.

“When they have difficulty returning capital, they resort to transactional trade politics involving product policies and money politics,” he stated.

Norma categorizes this as a collusion between councilman and entrepreneurs looking to smooth things business. Because, big business is heavily influenced by government policies. The same goes for procurement projects in the government which are frequently contested, the initial designs are always from the DPR.

Jogja Corruption Watch (JCW) activist, Baharuddin Kamba, indicated that the loopholes used by many members of parliament in committing corruption were government projects. They are not actively engaged in the mode, but put their people in the project.

The impact of the corruption of people’s representatives is materially detrimental to the state’s budget. Almost all members of the House of Representative in Gunungkidul Regency and Yogyakarta City were involved in the Retirement Fund corruption scandal in Special Region of Yogyakarta from 1999 to 2004, resulting in a total material loss of up to Rp. 6 billion.

Corruption also harms society. For a resident of Gunungkidul, Supriyono, the corruption case that has entangled the people’s representatives makes him concerned and disappointed.

“If there are corrupt people’s representatives, society can be angry and unwilling, because the impact is also on society,” he stated.

The Money Politics Dilemma of Sacrificed Animals in Anti Money Politics Village

The fight against money politics is not an easy matter. The initiator Anti-Money Politics Village Movement (APU) in Murtigading Village, Bantul Regency, Fauzi Noor Ahmad, admitted that he was hated a lot because he campaigned against money politics. “Against money politics requires idealism,” he said firmly.

Fauzi frequently cites Quranic passages linked to the prohibition of bribery to enhance public awareness. People’s consciousness gradually expanded as a result of years of perseverance and patience. Evidently, some locals are in a quandary when it comes to slaughtering a goat as a sacrificed animal during Eid al-Adha due to money politics.

Fauzi and volunteers from Team 11 of Murtigading Village were also successful in convincing the Urban-Village Government to establish a Village Regulation (Perkal) regulating Anti Money Politics Village Movement.

Political Education, Whose Responsibility?

Ahmad Hedar, a researcher at the Yogyakarta Indonesian Idea and Analytical Association (IDEA), believes that the public’s enthusiasm for participation in post-reform direct elections is quite large and that they should be supported with political education. Political parties and election organizers are responsible for this.

Political education in question is not only given ahead of the election. Instead, education about the rights, obligations, and restrictions in the election.

“It should not even be taught transactional politics,” he says.

However, in fact, a resident of Gunungkidul, Darmi, admitted that she had never received socialization from political parties or legislative candidates, either before or after the election. “I’ve never been visited by a candidate,” she explained.

Separately, Zaenuri Ikhsan, a Member of General Election Commissions (KPU) DIY emphasized that the Bawaslu’s major duty is political education. His party, on the other hand, transmitted it on a variety of platforms.

According to Didik Mukrianto, Chairman of the Committee Central of Political Parties, there are political party support funds at the management level, one of which is for political education. When members of the house or representative are in recess, they educate the public about politics.

To reduce money politics, Didik believes, the public needs to be given an understanding that both perpetrators and recipients of money politics can be subject to criminal sanctions.

When Election Law Is Weak in Capturing Money Politics

The Coordinator of the Election Aware Independent Committee (KISP), Moch. Edward Trias Pahlevi believes that so far, the Election Law is still weak in capturing the practice of money politics, so it needs to improve the system and the laws.

In line with this thought, UMY Criminal Law Expert, Trisno Raharjo emphasized that money politics breaches should be prosecuted under administrative law rather than criminal law. This may be done out by KPU or Bawaslu and will have a deterrence effect because participants who violate it are prohibited from campaigning or not even elected.

This member of the PP Muhammadiyah’s Law and Human Rights Council expects that following the election, the Law on Elections will be seriously rearranged so that it can be valid for a long term, at least 20 years. (Red-02)


This article is a Special Election Coverage in collaboration between journalists at and on a fellowship from the Indonesian Association for Media Development (PPMN) for the ExcEL Award Story Grants Project

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