Among the basic rights of any citizen, soldiers included, is the right to vote. But this has not been the case for members of the Indonesian military (TNI), who last exercised this right in the country’s first general elections in 1955.
In fact, since 1971, soldiers had been barred from voting. In return, the TNI was given fixed seats in the national and local parliaments, although the practice was discontinued after 2004.
The “national consensus” back then was that historically, political bickering had ruined the military’s internal cohesion and had even led the country to the brink of civil war. Hence, to prevent politicians from meddling in the military to score electoral points, the military’s voting rights were “suspended”.
Recently, however, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono tried to reverse this long-standing practice when he announced that the military should not be deprived of the right to vote and suggested that the TNI could vote in the 2014 general elections if its members were ready to do so.