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Indonesia's election committee says fast-tracked regional elections still feasible

Jakarta Post - September 26, 2023

Dio Suhenda, Jakarta – The General Elections Commission (KPU) has given an assurance that it would still have enough time to prepare for the 2024 regional elections should they be fast-tracked by two months.

The idea of bringing forward the elections by two months first came from the government but has yet to win unanimous support from lawmakers.

The regional elections, set to be held on Nov. 24 of next year, will be the first time Indonesians vote for their regional heads simultaneously across the country's dozens of provinces and hundreds of regencies and cities.

The government has reportedly been testing the waters with lawmakers for the proposal to hold the elections earlier than scheduled and instead host them on two separate dates on Sept. 7 and Sept. 24.

This has been met with concerns from observers, who fear that it might not give enough time for the KPU to prepare for the regional elections.This is because parties' eligibility to nominate their own candidates for regional heads will depend on the number of seats they have in the respective regional legislatures, which in turn, are dependent on the results of the legislative elections, set to be held on Feb. 14 along with the presidential election.

Under the 2016 Regional Elections Law, a party or a coalition of parties must control at least 20 percent of seats at their respective provincial or regional councils (DPRD) to field their own pairs of candidates in a regional election.

KPU chairman Hasyim Asy'ari, however, insisted that the KPU would have enough time between the Feb. 14 general elections and the regional elections, even if the latter were to be brought forward by two months.

"At the latest, [the results of the legislative elections] will be announced 35 days after Feb. 14, which falls on March 20," he said, as quoted by Kompas.id. "As such, by March 20, we will know which parties have gotten how many seats in their regional legislatures, which will be the basis for nominating candidates for regional heads."

Hasyim went on to say that, judging from past elections, any disputes regarding the number of seats parties get in the regional legislatures can mostly be resolved internally among the parties themselves, as opposed to going to the Constitutional Court.

In anticipation of a fast-tracked regional elections, Hasyim said that the KPU is currently mulling whether or not it will enlist the same volunteers to help with the general election and the regional elections. Both schemes pose similar budgetary challenges, even though the general election is financed by the state budget (APBN) while the regional elections are financed by the regional budgets (APBD) of each respective province, regency or city.

The government's proposal for fast-tracked regional elections first came to light last month, after a report in Kompas daily, citing an unnamed source within the Presidential Palace, said that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo was privy to the proposal after it was floated by staff at the Home Ministry.

The report said that the Jokowi administration was planning to issue a government regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) in September that would revise the current election date of Nov. 24, 2024 in the prevailing law on regional elections.

But speaking to reporters later last month, Jokowi feigned ignorance and denied any plans to publish any Perppu to fast track the regional elections.

Any Perppu, however, must also be passed by the House of Representatives after it is signed by the President to become permanent legislation.

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), of which Jokowi is a member, as well as the United Development Party (PPP) and the Golkar Party have thrown their weight behind the idea, while the Gerindra Party and the National Awakening Party (PKB) are opposed to bringing forward the regional elections.

The National Mandate Party (PAN), the NasDem Party, the Democratic Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) remain undecided.

Source: https://asianews.network/indonesias-election-committee-says-fast-tracked-regional-elections-still-feasible