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POLARIZATION OF HATRED IN THE 2018 NORTH SUMATRA REGIONAL ELECTION: How Local Democratic Development Realized?
Procedural democracy through elections is a strengthened mechanism in post-reform Indonesia, by conducting direct local elections. Efforts to strengthen local democracy have been challenged by sharp political polarization in society, particularly on issues of religious and tribal identity. Such polarization has the potential to cause social segregation and conflict in society that tends to degrade democracy itself. Through the case of the North Sumatra regional election in 2018, this research uses the theory of affective polarization and political development in explaining how democratic development at the local level is realized in Indonesia. Through a qualitative approach, research data is collected by literature search, in-depth interviews and focus group discussions (FGDs). Research findings show that there was a polarization of hatred in the 2018 regional elections, but this polarization occurred only as an effort to attract voters' votes, not because of hatred between religious people in North Sumatra. Local democratic development has weakened due to the polarization of hatred. The threat of democratic degradation also occurs if this political polarization based on the issue of religious identity persists in subsequent elections. Strengthening the scrutiny of candidates' political campaigns, particularly through social media and figures representing candidates' spouses, is crucial. This aims to minimize sharp political polarization in the implementation of regional elections and encourage democratic development at the local level to be realize.