2024 National and Regional Elections: Potential for chaos

Titi Anggraini, Member of the Elections and Democracy Forum (Perludem) Advisory Council. (Photo: Harnas)

IO – Titi Anggraini, Member of the Elections and Democracy Forum (Perkumpulan Pemilihan Umum dan Demokrasi– “Perludem”)’s Advisory Council, dealt with several crucial issues concerning the governance of the Regional Elections during the Constitutional Outlook 2021 Webinar held in the Islamic University of Indonesia, Yogyakarta, on Monday (25/01/2021). According to her, the design of the current version of the Regional Elections Law is not suitable for situation such as during a  pandemic.  The  latest  Regional Elections were implemented according to a legal framework meant for “normal” situations. Adjustments to electoral governance depend on Regulations made by Electoral Organizers (the Election Commission (Komisi Pemilihan Umum – “KPU” and the Election Supervisory Agency (Badan Pengawas Pemilihan Umum – “Bawaslu”)), as well as other technical regulations. “The Organizers are unable to ensure many of the public’s aspirations, including issues relating to strict sanctions for violations of health protocols, special voting arrangements during the pandemic, time extensions for votes, etc.,” she said.

Titi stated that KPU and Bawaslu continue to create conflicting rules in the electoral regulations, such as in the issue of allowing former convicts to run for candidacy (South Lampung Selatan, Dompu, Boven Digoel, and Province Bengkulu), as well as in the matter of disqualifying candidates after the vote count is made. The high number of single candidacies (25 single candidate in the past election) is an anomaly in Indonesian democracy. Practices are not yet completely fair: Supporters of blank votes in cases of single candidacy are not yet treated fairly and equally. “Our notoriously dynastic politics really limit access to party cadre selections and obstructs inclusiveness,” she said.

There is also the issue of politicizing public servants, worsened with the increase of public servants going into practical politics, despite better monitoring and law enforcement, as digital technology increases both data transparency and public access to electoral monitoring. “This is a great piece of homework for bureaucratic reform. Money politics is still a thorn in everyone’s side,” she said. Titi then highlighted the Constitution Court’s decision to change the constitutionality of the 5-ballot  simultaneous  elections  into  a sole constitutional option. In other words, Simultaneous National Elections (Presidential Elections, National Legislative Elections for membership of the House of Representatives (DewanPerwakilanRakyat– “DPR”) and Regional House of Representatives (DewanPerwakilanRakyatDaerah – “DPRD”)) and Simultaneous Regional/Local Elections (for the membership of the Regional Representative Council (Dewan Pertimbangan Daerah– “DPD”) and for Regional Heads) are now constitutional. The other five models of simultaneous elections are also constitutional, as long as elections for the membership of DPR, membership of DPD, and for President and Vice President are not held separately (National Elections).

“However, I believe that holding National Elections and Regional Elections in the same year (2024) presents a huge potential of messing up the governance of Indonesian elections with its manifold issues and problems. Therefore, National and Regional Elections should not be held in the same year. To put things in order, Regional Elections should be held according to its initial cycle in 2022 and 2023, while National Elections should still be held in 2027,” she said. “In view of Constitution Court Judgment No. 55/PUU-XVII/2019, the electoral simultaneity model that we choose will strongly affect the quality of electoral governance in Indonesia. Therefore, we need to discuss the issue seriously, within a sufficient but not prolonged timeframe. The discussion should include all stakeholders, test using comprehensive simulations, and be open as wide as possible for participation.”

Political observer Antony Lee pointed out that our democracy is currently under threat of regression due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “The regression is in term of quality of index, surveys, and civil liberties. Furthermore, problems in our political infrastructure and procedural democracy start with the involvement of political parties in the daily ruling of the Government. In Jokowi’s second term, the issue of having National and Regional Elections in the same year is a crucial one. Therefore, we need to consolidate civilians to strengthen the space for civil liberties. We need them to step up participation and serve as the ‘central’ power that balances polarized citizens as a whole. And finally, we need to promote the balance of the three essential elements for political order, i.e., a strong State, respect for the law, and democratic accountability,” he said. (dan)