Simultaneous elections and appointment of Regional Heads violates the Constitution: Calls for cancellation

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Anthony Budiawan
Anthony Budiawan, Managing Director, Political Economy and Policy Studies (PEPS)

IO – The Republic of Indonesia’s Constitution currently regulates the general elections as well as the regional governments. No one, including the President, the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court, nor the Constitutional Court, may violate this constitutional codicil. 

Article 22E, paragraph (1) of the Constitution reads General elections shall be conducted in a direct, general, free, secret, honest and fair manner once every five years. The term “General Election” presupposes the election of the President and Vice President, members of the House of the Representatives (DPR), members of the Regional Representative Council (DPD) and those of the Regional Legislative Council (DPRD). 

Article 18, paragraph (4) of the Constitution reads Governors, Regents and Mayors, as heads of regional Government of the provinces, regencies and municipalities, respectively, shall be elected democratically, which means that the people elect them, along with the General Election. 

The Constitution consolidates the elections through the issuance of “Government Regulation in lieu of Law” (PERPPU) No 1, Article 3 of 2014, passed by Law No 1 of 2015, which reads Elections (of Regional Heads: added) shall be conducted once every five years simultaneously throughout the territory of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia. 

“Simultaneously” infers, of course, that elections of Regional Heads which fall into the same year will be conducted at the same time; if not, elections which have fallen into a cutoff period (from different election years) will be done simultaneously. Should this be the case, it would have contravened Article 3 of the Government Regulation (PERPPU): Elections shall be conducted every five years. 

Holding elections contravening the above regulations would be against the Constitution and therefore must be annulled. Similar to the case with postponing the 2022 Election to 2024, the DKI Jakarta Regional Head (Governor) election is scheduled for 2022 but will be moved forward to 2024. 

In accord with this delay, the Government will dismiss Regional Heads who end their terms by 2022, appointing replacements to serve as Acting Regional Head until the next election in 2024. 

This is clearly contrary to the Constitution, according to which, Article 18 paragraph (4) stipulates that Regional Heads shall be elected democratically, which implies that people are to elect them directly. Another factor negating this proposal is that certain political parties must nominate their regional head candidates in line with Law No. 1 of 2015, Article 39 part (a) and (b). 

To run for the office of regional head, a candidate must at least have graduated from a high school or equivalent. Current criteria oppose this: Pemimpin Tinggi Madya (High Echelon Government Official) Position for the Governor and Pimpinan Tinggi Pratama (Second Echelon Gov’t Official) Position for the Regent and Mayor. 

Hence, regional heads’ criteria also conflict with the democratic principle mandated in the Constitution, Article 18 paragraph (4). 

Therefore, appointing regional heads by any party, under any circumstances, is not constitutional and undemocratic. To top this off, it eliminates the people’s right to vote for regional candidates for regional heads, against the spirit of regional autonomy. 

That said, rescheduling and postponing elections for the sake of simultaneous elections and Regional Head appointments violates the democratic process, is unconstitutional and calls for cancellation.