Whose debate?

JAKARTA. The second round of voting for the DKI Jakarta Pilgub is getting closer. Candidate debates are an important moment in a series of campaigns, bearing in mind that through debates it is hoped that the public will be able to think rationally by looking at the programs presented in the debates. So what program is the most appropriate to answer the problems of the capital and how much of the debate is a reference for voters? To discuss this issue, the Populi Center in collaboration with the DKI Jakarta Election Commission held a Jakarta Perspective discussion with the theme "Whose Debate Is It?" at the DKI Jakarta KPUD, Tuesday (11/4).

This discussion invited Dahlia Umar (Commissioner of KPUD DKI Jakarta), Sebastian Salang (FORMAPPI), Usep S. Ahyar (Director of Populi Center), and was moderated by Gunawan Hartono. Dahlia Umar as the DKI Jakarta KPUD commissioner said that in the second round of debate there would be changes in terms of substance and method. In terms of substance, the debate in the second round will encourage the candidates to sharpen the excellent programs that have been discussed in the first round of debates and campaigns. In terms of method, the debate in the second round will provide a session slot where the public can ask questions directly to the two pairs of candidates.

As for the theme, there are three key questions to be elaborated on by the two pairs of candidates, namely social inequality, law enforcement, and demography. Apart from this, there are several important questions regarding policies, such as transportation, coastal planning policies, urban planning. Where these questions are prepared by community groups that will be present at the time of the debate. Dahlia explicitly stated that this step was taken so that the public would have a sense of ownership towards the second round of debate. It is hoped that this move will encourage more public participation.

A different view was presented by Usep Ahyar as the Director of the Populi Center. Debate in his explanation is one of the campaign methods that should contain political education. Through debate, voters are invited to be rational in choosing the best policy offer. When viewed from public attention, the first round of debate has been watched by 70-80%, where a similar percentage will appear in his prediction. So will the debate affect the choice of the 2017 DKI Pilgub? According to Usep, the debate performance will determine the choice of Jakarta's swing voter which reaches 20-25%. The data shows that as many as 14% people changed their voices after the first round of debate. Furthermore, Usep criticized the debate in the first round which was still too normative. Where in the debate, it was not discussed in detail how the programs offered would be implemented.

This is shown from the Populi Center survey from 1-5 April 2017 which shows that the level of voter knowledge about the programs in the DKI Jakarta Pilgub is still below 50%. When asked what programs were realistic to implement, 50% saw the Jakarta Smart Card (KJP) as a realistic program, while DP 0% as an unrealistic program. A similar opinion was expressed by Sebastian Salang from FORMAPPI, where the debate was seen as an important arena in the election contest for the gubernatorial election. Remembering through debate, the public can find out which programs are realistic and which are not. Therefore, for candidates who cannot debate, they are basically harming themselves. As happened with the absence of Anies-Sandiaga in the Kompas TV debate. Strictly speaking Sebastian Salang explained that the second round of the Pilgub debate was a contest of public communication skills as well as emotional and mental maturity. Do not let each candidate make blundering statements, such as attacking the candidate pair personally, because this will affect the choice of each candidate.