Professor Sulfikar took the initiative to conduct a survey in collaboration with the Indonesian Political Indicators Institute to measure the polarization between two supporters, namely Anies Baswedan and Ahok.
JAKARTA | KBA – Sulfikar Amir, Associate Professor for Sociology, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, said that polarization or division in Metropolitan Jakarta is a mere myth. He wrote this in an opinion article entitled “Exposing Polarization (in Jakarta)” on the Monday, March 13, 2023 edition of the Sindonews.com page.
Sulfikar, who is also a colleague of the Governor of DKI Jakarta for the 2017-2022 period Anies Baswedan while doing his PhD in the United States, opened the statement that polarization is a social phenomenon that can threaten the unity and integrity of the nation. He wrote that the division of a nation as a consequence of polarization has been proven in several countries.
“Usually, polarization tends to spread in democratic countries that adhere to a two-party system, such as the United States, Britain and Australia,” Sulfikar wrote as quoted by KBA News, Wednesday, March 15, 2023.
According to Sulfikar, even in Uncle Sam’s country where democracy has been formed, polarization can arise on severak issues when the two groups have different views. He explained this as when Donald Trump was in power, where the division of the US people was seen.
“Also in England where their society is divided between pro and contra-Brexit. Under these conditions, polarization leads to the dislike of one group for another (Barber et al, 2015),” wrote Sulfikar.
Specifically in Indonesia, according to Sulfikar, divisions were mainly triggered by increasing political tension, especially between groups that often criticize President Joko Widodo and his group of supporters. Sulfikar questions whether polarization is really happening in this case.
He wrote that there are two reasons according to him why this question have to be answered. First, polarizing narratives tend to be conjectures and assumptions without any empirical evidence base so far. He explained that the narratives that are always used to “attack” are anecdotal events that do not reflect systemic polarization phenomena.
“Without a measurable empirical basis, the polarization narrative is just a figment that shows the poor quality of political debate,” wrote Sulfikar.
The second reason, Sulfikar writes, is the most important in this regard, knowing for certain that polarization exists in order to prepare ways to mitigate it. In this case, he said, it can be measured depending on the variables used and the causal factors.
Sulfikar explained that polarization has various forms. Some of these are political, social, or thought polarization (Iyengar et al. 2019).
He divided polarization measurements into two, namely affection or preference for one figure, political party, or thought (Iyengar et al. 2019). Second is the factor of resentment (dislike).
It is in this second factor, according to Sulfikar, that there is dislike among supporters of political figures, political parties and opposing ideas. He specifically uses the measurement model above regarding the alleged polarization in Jakarta.
He shared two reasons why he chose Jakarta. First, the capital is considered the center of polarization as a result of political contestation after the 2017 DKI gubernatorial election.
“Second, the factors causing polarization in Jakarta are relatively identifiable, namely between the figures of Anies R Baswedanvis-à-vis Basuki T Purnama and Joko Widodo,” wrote Sulfikar.
Sulfikar took the initiative to conduct a survey in collaboration with the Indonesian Political Indicators Institute to measure the polarization between two supporters, namely Anies Baswedan and Ahok.
He divides into two questions, first to what extent do you like one of the figures/pairs of political figures and (2) to what extent do you dislike the supporters of the opposite figures/pairs of figures?
The survey produced a curve of 83 percent of respondents at zero point. Sulfikar wrote that the results indicated that Jakarta residents are not stuck in one pole. He said there were groups that entered the polar region even though their numbers were relatively small and insignificant.
“With this scientific evidence, we can conclude with confidence that Jakarta is not polarizing. In other words, polarization in Jakarta is just a myth,” wrote Sulfikar. (kba)