IO, Jakarta – The Elections Commission (Komisi Pemilihan Umum – “KPU”) officially issued Decree Number 179/PL.02-Kpt/01/KPU/111/2020 to postpone the execution of the stages of Regional Elections. KPU Chairman Arief Budiman personally signed the Decree on Saturday (21/03/2020).
According to the decree, there are four stages of Regional Elections that are to be postponed: First, the appointment of Electoral Committee (Panitia Pemungutan Suara – “PPS”) members and their tenure. Second, the verification of supplementary requirements for individual candidates. Third, the appointment of officials for updating the Voters’ List. Fourth, to postpone the updating and final confirmation of the Voters’ List.
This postponement of the 2020 Simultaneous Regional Elections is based on official World Health Organization (“WHO”) statement that COVID-19 is a global pandemic, the statement of President Joko Widodo that the spread of COVID-19 is a non-natural national disaster, and the Decree of the Head of the National Disaster Management Authority (Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana – “BNPB”) concerning the extension of a specific pandemic disaster status due to Corona virus in Indonesia, from 29 February to 29 May 2020.
“In relation to the above issue, in the execution of Simultaneous Regional Elections initially planned for 23 September 2020, we need to enact a KPU Circular concerning the Postpone of the Stages of 2020 Regional Elections in order to avoid COVID-19 in the Environs of KPU,” the Circular stated. However, Regency and Municipal KPU Offices that are ready to appoint PPS members in regions that are not affected by COVID-19 may continue appointing these members, with provisions concerning tenure to be stipulated at a later date.
The Right Step to Take
Association for Elections and Democracy (Perkumpulan untuk Pemilhan Umum dan Demokrasi – “Perludem”) Executive Director Titi Anggraini concludes that the postpone of PPS appointment, verification of individual candidates and matching and review of voter data is the right step to take in response to COVID-19. “We personally feel that it is the correct step to take, even though we think it is quite late. After all, we have encouraged KPU to adjust the timing of the stages since the early days of COVID-19 awareness,” she said in Jakarta.
It is natural that KPU should take this step, as COVID-19 is now a global pandemic as well as national emergency. “We believe that the Regional Elections should not be excepted from this national emergency status. It is only natural that everyone involved in the organization of Regional Elections should comply with and obey the COVID-19 mitigation protocol initiated by the Government,” Titi said. “The stages of Regional Elections include activities that require face-to-face meetings and gatherings between and among electoral organizers, voters, and other Regional Election participants, while direct interaction is the very step that we must minimize in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, it would be odd if KPU decides to continue organizing Regional Elections as usual amid the current national emergency situation.”
Titi stated that the postpone of Regional Elections is something allowed by Regional Elections Law, even though the Law did not explicitly mention any nomenclature or terminology concerning the norm for postponing Regional Elections. “Yes, there is a stipulation concerning Advanced Elections and Postponed Elections: that’s in Articles 120 and 121 of Law Number 1 of 2015, concerning the Election of Governors, Regents, and Mayors,” she said.
The House’s Approval
With the postponement of some Regional Election stages, KPU opens the opportunity to actually postpone the holding of Simultaneous Regional Elections, originally planned for September 2020. KPU Commissioner Hasyim Asy’ari stated that “No, we (KPU) have not decided to postpone (the 2020 Regional Elections). We might make an announcement shortly,” he stated on Saturday (21/03/2020).
Currently, there are concerns that COVID-19 infections will sharply increase during 2020 Regional Elections, as this election will include 270 Electoral Regions (9 provinces, 224 regencies, and 37 municipalities) spread out across the territory of 309 regencies and municipalities in 32 provinces, and that involves the 105,396,460 voters recorded by DP4. “The fact is that certain Regional and Municipal KPU staff, or the individual Regional Elections 2020 organizers, are affected already and are Covid-19 positive, Monitored Patients (Pasien Dalam Pemantauan – “PDP”), and Monitored Individuals (Orang Dalam Pemantauan – “ODP”). This is no longer a potential obstruction, but an actual obstruction to 2020Regional Elections,” Hasyim said. “Therefore, it is sufficient consideration for postponing them.”
KPU Commissioner Viryan Azis confirms that there are plans to postpone Regional Elections 2020. However, the postponement won’t involve the entirety of the Elections, just certain stages. “We are postponing a number of stages in the Regional Elections, i.e. appointment of PPS, verification of individual candidates, Voter Data Updating Officials (Petugas Pemutakhiran Data Pemilih – “PPDP”) recruitment, and voter data matching and review,” he said.
Special Staff of the Ministry of Home Affairs Kastorius Sinaga stated that the Ministry will be coordinating Regional Elections postpone with the KPU. “We understand KPU’s decision. Change of schedule is still within the scope of KPU authority. We also understand that the change of schedule is based on objective considerations concerning the spread of COVID-19,” he said.
The Ministry of Home Affairs will continue to observe current developments until July 2020. “We will continue to observe the impact of COVID-19 until July 2020, including its impact on Regional Elections. If conditions have not improved until then, if the stages of Regional Elections 2020 continue to be postponed in the July-September period, the Elections must be postponed by amending Law Number 10 of 2016. Naturally, all changes to the Law must be made with the approval of the House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat – “DPR”),” Kastorius said. (Dan)