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The Urgency of Avoiding Identity Politics to Create Peaceful Elections

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The 2024 General Election (Pemilu) is a democratic party that will determine the future direction of the nation’s development so that it is hoped that Indonesia can become a developed, united and prosperous country. For this reason, identity politics which can cause polarization in society needs to be prevented. Identity politics is a terrible scourge in democracies everywhere. Various historical records of democracy that encourage the use of identity politics to gain power have ended in chaos, government instability, democratic decline, and even divisions in society and war.
Indonesia, as a very diverse country, is very vulnerable to issues of identity politics. Indonesia is destined to live with a plurality of different tribes, races, customs, religions, cultures and languages. Every difference has the potential to be pushed as ammunition in Identity Politics. Especially in the digital era, unhealthy use of social media and the internet will flood the public with false information or hoaxes, slander and negative ideas to gain power without considering the integrity of the nation and state.
Therefore, all elements of society must be wary of identity politics because it can be a threat and give rise to national disintegration, especially ahead of the 2024 elections. Apart from that, identity politics also has a negative impact on national diversity and unity. This has been proven and felt in the 2019 elections, where identity politics that carried the name of religion gave rise to polarization in society. Such as the emergence of the terms cebong, kampret, kadrun and the like which are not in line with the spirit of diversity and harmony of the Indonesian nation.
Meanwhile, Member of the DIY DPRD, Dr. Raden Stevanus Christian Handoko said that as the implementation of the democratic party is getting closer like now, all parties should not use identity politics, and not encourage the idea of identity politics as a strategy to gain support in gaining power. Identity politics used to gain power will bring division, and can create polarization and tension in society because it places group or individual interests above the general interest.
In politics, there are parties who use various methods to gain people’s votes. Identity politics is used by a group of people for their ambition to win election contests through inelegant shortcuts. The perpetrators of identity politics are even willing to carry out black campaigns through fake news, hoaxes, slander and other misleading news as long as their goals are achieved. They don’t care about national politics, it doesn’t matter if their actions threaten national unity or not, the main thing is that as long as they win, they will do whatever they can. In fact, the fake news and slander that they spread left an impression on people’s hearts for years, even until the election was long over. Apart from that, the use of identity politics narratives has reached a very sensitive phase, when the relationship between religion and the state is being questioned again. The form of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI) is clashing with the ideology of the caliphate, and it is even felt that there is an invisible hand that is trying to pit various parties against each other, giving rise to conflict and division.
The Head of the Regional Office of the Ministry of Religion of Lampung Province, Puji Raharjo, said the same thing, who said that identity politics is a form of politics that emphasizes identity differences such as religion, ethnicity, race and gender in achieving political goals. According to him, this could trigger horizontal conflict and worsen the political atmosphere in Indonesia. Apart from that, identity politics can also cause polarization in society, weaken national unity, and damage the values of tolerance and pluralism. Therefore, as a millennial generation, they must be able to understand the dangers of identity politics and promote the perspective of religious moderation. The millennial generation must also be active in fighting for the values of tolerance and pluralism and building awareness of the importance of religion by bringing its essence, not its container.
Explicitly, there are no identity politics phrases in the regulation of campaign prohibitions in general elections or regional elections. However, in the implementation of the 2019 General Election and the 2017 DKI Jakarta Regional Election, identity politics is considered to be a dangerous new disease in the contestation of candidate electability because it has a sharp polarization impact in society. Apart from that, what is considered dangerous about identity politics is when it politicizes ethnicity, religion, race and inter-group (SARA) to the point of actions in campaign prohibitions that endanger the integrity of the State, insult other identities, incite and pit one against another, or even carry out or encourage the use of violence.

Using SARA identity to attack opponents, denying the diversity of identity differences inherent in society, will seriously endanger the integrity of the State. Assuming that only the candidate represents a certain identity, and is the most devout in religion while the other candidates are not. So it will easily divide society into supporting candidates in extreme ways or blind fanaticism.
Therefore, to ensure a healthy political process and support a strong democracy, it is important for society to avoid and oppose identity politics. 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.

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