Finnish citizen Joanna Chellapermal was basking in the sun along Bali beaches, not even intending to use her right to vote in the EU elections. When suddenly….here she is in Jakarta using precisely that ONE….
I had not intended to vote in the EP elections originally. Had I been in Europe it would have been a different story but I was going to be enjoying the beautiful sights of Bali at the time.
Once I arrived in Indonesia I observed how Indonesians were caught up with their own elections. Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, had just finished its second democratic parliamentary elections and was preparing for the first round of the presidential elections. Everyone is following the elections – tv stations and newspapers provide daily analysis and debates. My taxi drivers, the people’s political analysts, would have long discussions on the state of the nation and strength of the candidates. My friends in Jakarta would provide me with the latest behind the scenes gossip on the candidates.
I guess it made me question how I as a European take for granted the right to vote in free and fair elections be it on national or European level.
In the end I decided to abandon the sunny beaches of Bali for a few days and to travel to Jakarta to vote at my embassy.
Why? What nudged me? In the end I got caught up in the EP election fever. It did make me feel still connected with Europe somehow although when I talked to European friends abroad I would get mixed reactions. A Finnish friend in Canada said ‘ but the elections are in Europe, what does this have to do with me?’
I tried to find out how many Finns are expected to vote in Jakarta. However for Finnish citizens it was not necessary to register, just to show up at the nearest Finnish embassy with a passport or other I.D document. This can only be to the advantage of such like me.
As I delved into the European election fever, I spoke with NGO activists and representatives of Indonesian parliament to find out if they were aware of what was happening on the European continent or about the biggest trans-European elections. However, I am afraid to say that they were not aware that the EP elections are taking place now. This said many did know that elections will be held this year and some even had read about the low turnout at the last EP elections; all which led to an interesting discussion comparing the two election processes.
Regarding who my vote went for, once I decided to vote in the elections I was able to find all the information I needed……in a serene wi-fi café in Seminyak called “Grocer & Grind” where I spent considerable time over an espresso searching information on voting and candidates. Finnish websites such as
gave me all the information I needed and the Finnish embassy officials in Jakarta were also very helpful with the information on election times and requirements.
I had a clear idea who to vote for from the beginning. I have seen how dedicated my chosen candidate was to protecting human rights and the environment during her two previous europarliamentary terms.
What struck me in these elections was the use of Facebook and internet in general. My chosen MEP has a facebook site and I was able to share the link with my Finnish Facebook friends some of whom joined her site. To crown it all I was even motivated enough to post a comment on her site. I am dying to tell you who I voted for…..