Jakarta – Home Minister Tito Karnavian has said that holding the upcoming simultaneous regional elections amid the COVID-19 pandemic could actually be beneficial, even as experts and observers call for the polls to be postponed.
Tito argued that the public's attention would shift to the COVID-19 outbreak and the regional administrations' response rather than the issues that typically emerged during elections.
"For instance, issues of race, religion and ethnicity would be reduced, as the public is more concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic than these issues," he said on Wednesday as quoted by a statement on the Home Ministry's website.
He added that contrary to concerns raised by election watchdogs that holding the regional races this year would unfairly advantage incumbents, incumbents would actually be facing an uphill battle, as they had to showcase their success in flattening the COVID-19 curve in their respective region to potential constituents.
"If the curve keeps rising, if there are more victims or more fatalities, I think the public will not vote for them," he said.
Tito said that the regional elections should be used as a platform for ideas about the most effective ways to mitigate the outbreak, as that could help accelerate recovery efforts.
"Let the candidates compete with each other on their ideas. The incumbents, therefore, should act more, as they have power and resources," said Tito.
Nine provinces, 224 regencies and 37 municipalities are set to hold regional elections on Dec. 9. The elections had initially been scheduled for Sept. 23 but have been postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. (asp)