Church calls for responsible voting ahead of Indonesia’s general election
by Mathias Hariyadi

In just over a month, Indonesians will pick a new president, vice president and members of parliament. The election will be crucial for the future of the young democracy. The Archbishop of Jakarta urges Catholics to choose political programmes that respect pluralistic values. The Bishops’ Commission for the Laity warns against not voting or blank ballots.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Against the backdrop of a hot election campaign, the Catholic Church of Indonesia calls on Catholics to vote responsibly and in an informed manner exercising their moral conscience.

In two videos released yesterday, the Archbishop of Jakarta (picture from video 1) and the Bishops’ Commission for the Laity (picture from video 2) illustrate the criteria for choosing qualified and honest representatives, ready to work for the good and unity of the country.

For the first time in Indonesian history, 190 million eligible voters will elect the president, vice-president, and members of the bicameral parliament on the same day, 17 April 2019.

For many observers, it will be "a critical day" for the future of the young democracy, which is threatened by divisive ideologies.

In his video message entitled ‘Elect good leaders’, Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, archbishop of the capital, urges the faithful to be "good and responsible citizens", reminding them of "the moral obligation to go to the polls".

Voters, he notes, are called to look at candidates and "consider what they have done so far, what they are doing and what they will do for the nation".

Political programmes and electoral promises must also be evaluated. "These must be in line with Pancasila, the state ideology that underlies the Constitution of 1945, and the national principle of unity in diversity (Bhinneka Tunggal Ika).

The Commission for the Laity (Komisi Kerawam) of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Indonesia (KWI) has also released its own "moral address".

The Commission’s executive secretary, Fr Paulus Christian Siswantoko, warns Catholics against not voting or casting a blank ballot (golongan putih or golput).

"In doing so, you would deliver the country to bad leaders. Voting means determining the nation's immediate future," he explains.

"Let us elect leaders who know how to defend Pancasila, and who would never let themselves be involved in actions or deeds of intolerance, fundamentalism and violence".

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