April 9 2014 will be the day of election in Indonesia. From quick observation I find there are still a lot of people who can’t make up their mind yet. Who to choose? Who is the suitable candidates as members of local and national legislatures?
Many will just select the party, not the candidates him/herself. This simplifies things: voters do not need to concern themselves with track records, programmes, etc. Just the party. Just the political tribe. This is not ideal (at least not to me): sometimes the parties do not rank the candidates by their capabilities, but by connections to party leaders. Good, promising candidates are put in lower ranks. In this case it’s better for voters to choose the candidate directly. In the case of regional representatives (DPD) you can’t choose parties, so information about candidates is even more important.
The Election Commission (KPU) have actually put the information about the candidates on their website. But as usual it is poorly presented, and the information is sparse. Several sites and apps have sprung up to offer better presentation and visualisation, but the data are still mainly sourced from the KPU database.
Here I think Wikipedia can, and should help. It is a crowdsourced platform (so every one can contributes), well-known, and also easy to search. Wikipedians can create entries for politicians and public office holders, and document their successes and flaws. Wikipedia biography articles usually reference public sources (news, government publications, etc), so they are very easy to check. It won’t really replace election apps and sites (such as presented in pemiluapps.org), but it can be complement and perhaps an additional database to such apps.
Unfortunately Indonesian Wikipedia coverage of the country’s politicians is rather sparse, and existing articles are not always of good quality. Adding and editing politicians biography articles can be a theme for future Wikipedia editathons. It might be too late for choosing MP candidates, but it still can be done when the results are out and the elected candidates are known. Over the time Indonesian Wikipedia should have better coverage of Indonesian politicians and help the voters to educate themselves in the next election.