Since the start of regional elections in 2005, most regions of Indonesia have twice conducted elections. Papua region is ranked the highest in terms of violence as measured by Electoral Hostility Index (EHI) in its second election. Despite existing perceptions, the research conducted by Dr. M. Zulfan Tadjoeddin and Dr. Samsu Rizal Panggabean showed the violence in Papua is not caused by cultural issue.
The finding was revealed in the seminar hosted by UGM Centre for Security and Peace and Institute of International Studies on Monday (18/4) in the Seminar Room of Faculty of Social and Political Sciences UGM. The seminar discussed violence phenomenon in Papua. Both researchers in the seminar replied to questions on factors that raised more violence in Papua than any other regions in Indonesia.
“There was difference in terms of electoral behaviours among society or electoral players between national and regional elections. Significantly, there are more conflicts and violence in the regional elections,” said Tadjoeddin.
Tajoeddin, who teaches at University of Western Sidney, Australia, in year 2012 introduced the Electoral Hostility Index as a standard to measure levels of violence in regional election process. He uses four scales: low, medium, high, and very high. Of 11 provinces categorised as having high rate of conflicts in Indonesia that he observed, the EHI showed that in the second elections, violence happened most in Papua.
Based on this research, he explained two things that have significant effect to the violence during regional elections, namely poverty and conflict history in the past. “The inheritance of old conflicts were transactioned, meaning that the skills to commit acts of violence have been re-adopted. This is truly worrisome,” he added.
On the motives, according to Rizal, International Relations lecturer of UGM, characteristics of violence showed that these did not happen due to disappointment or negative sentiment to electoral institutions but to the efforts that affect process and result of regional elections. So, the violence happened because of strategic problem, such as use of means to provoke opponents.
“So, it’s more appropriate if we see this problem as a strategy issue of players in the regional elections rather than structure or culture of society. When people talk about Papua issues, we’re often trapped in the issue of culture, but in the city and regency levels, this is not seen,” he said.