Regional Elections: Opportunity for the younger citizens to safeguard Democracy

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Lingkar Madani Indonesia (LIMA) Executive Director, Ray Rangkuti. (Photo: INDOPOLITIKA)

IO – Simultaneous Regional Elections, currently in the campaign stage, remain in the spotlight. Usep Hasan Sadikin of the Election and Democracy Forum (Perkumpulan Pemilu dan Demokrasi – “Perludem”) regrets that the Government, the House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat – “DPR”), electoral organizer Election Commission (Komisi Pemilihan Umum – “KPU”), and Election Supervisory Agency (Badan Pengawas Pemilu – “Bawaslu”) choose to pursue Regional Elections despite surveys showing that more than 50% of citizens would prefer to delay them until 2021. He cited Regional Elections Law Article 22 Paragraph 1a, which states that if the COVID-19 emergency is prolonged, Regional Elections can be delayed again. “Yet here we have the Government, DPR, and KPU continuing with the Elections, despite a continued increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. This is clearly a violation of the Law,” he said in the discussion “Young Citizens Safeguarding the Regional Elections”. 

Wahidah Suaib, Electoral Advisor, also expressed her objections over the many flaws in the regulations created by the Government and KPU as electoral organizers. “These regulations are too brief and made in such a rush, while many issues in the Law and KPU Regulations still contain loopholes or unresolved technical issues that will result in trouble on the ground,” she said. “This enforced condition will dismay voters later, as many of their rights in democracy are bound to be neglected. For example, the suggestion that Regional Elections be further delayed from 9 December came from civil groups such as the Nahdlatul Ulama, Muhammadiyah, epidemiologists, the Indonesian Medical Association. However, the Government continues to ignore the people’s voices and their safety.” 

Lingkar Madani Indonesia (LIMA)’s Executive Director Ray Rangkuti disagrees. If the decision to hold Regional Elections is made, the next thing to be discussed is how to strengthen democracy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, not to debate whether Regional Elections should be continued or delayed. “Instead of debating over what has been decided already, it would be better for us to discuss how to strengthen democracy under the circumstances. That’s our challenge,” he said. 

Ray further warns against continuing to get so mired in useless debate, so that we forget to note that Regional Head Candidates continue their campaign without proper monitoring from civilians. “We argue so much about whether to delay Regional Elections or not, while crooked candidates already jump the gun and distribute bribes to voters as we speak. Therefore, it will be better for us to concentrate on the stipulated stages of the Regional Elections,” he said. “Regional Elections should be used as momentum for the young to hold a discourse on how to suppress money politics and how to get voters to focus on candidates’ visions and missions.” 

Young Citizens Safeguarding Regional Elections (Warga Muda Jaga Pemilihan Kepala Daerah)’s Coordinator Heru Dinyo regrets that the decision to continue holding Regional Elections amid the pandemic was made without considering the participation and representation of the younger generation. If the Government remains obstinate, he will incite all of the Indonesian young to demand that KPU and Bawaslu be held responsible for the safety of everyone involved, by improving their less-than-stellar performance. Heru further recalls the tragedy of the 2019 Elections, which caused the deaths of hundreds of members of the Election Organizer Group (Kelompok Penyelenggara Pemungutan Suara – “KPPS”), Monitoring Committee (Panitia Pengawas – “Panwas”), and the police. “Even before the pandemic, we have suffered a humanitarian tragedy for the sake of democracy, wherein 554 members of the KPPS, Panwas, and the police died during the course of the 2019 Elections. And this large number does not include those who fell ill, suffered from permanent injuries, suffered miscarriages, etc. Let’s not allow the 2020 Regional Elections to become a parody of humanity and democracy because of KPU and Bawaslu’s careless work amid the pandemic, as this is closely related to the fate of Indonesia in the future,” he said. (Dan)