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Avoid SARA Politics  and Identity Politics  to Create Peaceful Elections

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By : Doni Ramadan )*

SARA (Ethnicity, Religion, Race and Intergroup) politics is an unethical political practice and can endanger social unity and societal stability. SARA politics includes manipulating or exploiting identity differences such as ethnicity, religion, race, or certain social groups for political or electoral purposes. This is a tactic often used by some politicians or groups to gain support or divert attention from more substantial issues.

SARA politics are usually considered an unethical practice in politics, because they can threaten social unity, trigger conflict, and damage the democratic process. Many countries have laws and regulations that prohibit political campaigns based on SARA factors, and violations can result in legal sanctions.

In the run-up to the General Election (Pemilu), it is important to prioritize political campaigns that are based on political ideas, programs and visions, rather than relying on SARA issues. The principles of a healthy democracy include respect for pluralism, tolerance, and constructive dialogue between various groups in society.

Avoiding SARA politics is an important step in ensuring that political and democratic processes run well and create a harmonious society. Here are several reasons why avoiding SARA politics is very important.

First. Maintaining Social Unity. SARA politics can often divide society based on differences in identity such as ethnicity, religion or race. This can certainly threaten social unity and create conflict in society.

Second. Increasing Tolerance and Diversity. Avoiding SARA politics helps society to be more accepting and appreciative of diversity in society. This is important to create an inclusive and harmonious environment ahead of the 2024 elections.

Third. Focus on Substantial Issues. Politics that focus on substantial issues, such as the economy, education, health and the environment, are more likely to achieve adequate solutions than campaigns based solely on SARA factors. Apart from that, focusing on substantial issues can make the election process more dignified and also have integrity.

Fourth. Encourage Diverse Participation. Avoiding SARA politics can encourage more diverse political participation, where people are more involved based on understanding ideology and political programs rather than personal identity.

Fifth. Maintaining a Healthy Democracy. Politics based on political issues and vision will support a healthier and more transparent democracy, while SARA politics will only tend to damage democracy.

Ahead of the 2024 General Election, it is hoped that the public can play an active role in preventing several issues that are currently emerging among the public. Especially on issues of ethnicity, religion, race and intergroup.

Lecturer at the Faculty of Islamic Religion (FAI) Muhammadiyah University of Surabaya, M Febriyanto Firman Wijaya, said that the general elections that have been held so far have often been colored by several unpleasant issues, one of which is the issue of SARA. Therefore, in the next few months we need to prevent some of these issues from starting to emerge again so that potential disruptions can be anticipated. Ahead of the 2024 elections, the public must be smart in avoiding and preventing SARA issues because they can divide unity, disrupt political stability and threaten national harmony.

Apart from that, the issue of SARA must also be completely avoided in political debates. Don’t let differences in ethnicity, religion, race or background prevent people from reaching good agreements. As election participants, the community must choose leaders based on their capacity, integrity and work program, not based on SARA factors. As well as evaluating candidates based on their track record and their vision for Indonesia’s future. SARA politics is generally carried out in public spaces such as social media. Some forms of action include distributing hoax photos and videos to bring down political opponents.

Meanwhile, Commissioner of the General Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu), Lolly Suhenty, said that the social media most often used to carry out campaigns containing SARA, hoaxes and hate speech are Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter. The most dominant campaign content containing SARA, hoaxes and hate speech on social media are photos, videos and news links which are added with intimidating narratives and made in such a way as to appear threatening. The method is to gain greater support or sympathy, attack opponents and delegitimize the election process or results.

Lolly believes that campaigns containing SARA, fake news and hate speech via social media can cause polarization and even conflict in society in the real world. So this could certainly be a threat and disrupt the implementation of the 2024 elections.

Therefore, to ensure a healthy political process and support strong democracy, it is important for society to avoid and oppose politics that play on SARA issues. In addition, it is important for society to promote politics that is based on argument and ideology, and to respect the principles of healthy democracy. Because this will help build a stronger and more peaceful society, as well as make the 2024 democratic party more dignified and have integrity.

)* The author is an observer of domestic politics

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