Ghina Ghaliya, Jakarta – The government and the House of Representatives have agreed to reschedule the voting day for this year's simultaneous regional elections to Dec. 9 from its initial schedule in September due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Lawmakers and relevant stakeholders reached the decision after a hearing held on Tuesday between House Commission II overseeing home affairs, Home Minister Tito Karnavian, the General Elections Commission (KPU), the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) and the Election Organization Ethics Council (DKPP).
"House Commission II approved the government's proposal to postpone the 2020 regional elections to Dec. 9, 2020," Commission II chairman Ahmad Doli Kurnia said.
The Golkar Party politician went on to say that Commission II together with the home minister and KPU would hold a work meeting to further discuss the matter and the latest developments of the pandemic after the emergency period for the COVID-19 outbreak had ended.
"At the same time, we will review the stages of the regional elections," said Doli.
The government will draft a regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) to provide a legal basis for the postponement of the voting day, which will be held simultaneously in the country's 270 regions.
The 2016 Regional Elections Law mandates that the 2020 simultaneous regional elections be held in September, with voting day on Sept. 23, 2020, as stipulated in a 2019 KPU regulation.
However, due to the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak – – which has now infected more than 4,000 people in the country – – the KPU had previously suggested three alternative dates for voting day: Dec. 9, 2020; March 17, 2021; and Sept. 29, 2021.
As the election organizer, the KPU does not have the authority to delay the local elections and can only postpone the stages of the elections. The authority to delay the election schedule belongs to the House.
According to the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has led many countries to postpone elections, with at least 12 national elections and 20 local elections in 30 countries having been delayed.
The government, the KPU and the House had also previously agreed to reallocate the remaining balance of around Rp 9 trillion (US$550 million) from the election budget for COVID-19 prevention and control.