July 17, 2023
JAKARTA – The government and lawmakers have dismissed a fresh proposal from the country’s election supervisor to delay regional elections next year because of security concerns.
Indonesia is gearing up to hold general and regional elections in the same year for the first time in history. The presidential and legislative elections are slated for Feb. 14, while the voting day for the regional leaders is scheduled for Nov. 27.
The regional elections were originally scheduled for 2022 and 2023, but were pushed back after an agreement between the government and the House of Representatives not to revise the law that stipulates holding simultaneous regional elections in 2024. More than a hundred regional leadership posts were already vacant last year and many more will be by the time the regional leaders’ terms are up this year.
But the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) raised the idea of postponing the November voting day, citing security concerns surrounding the local elections across the country. Bawaslu chairman Rahmat Bagja conveyed the proposal during a meeting with the Office of Presidential Staff (KSP) on Thursday.
“We’re worried because the November voting day will be held close to the presidential inauguration in October,” Rahmat said, adding the series of events would add challenges to managing security during the regional elections.
The government quickly dismissed the suggestion as “irrelevant”, as said by Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD. He asserted that the government had pledged to help ensure the safety of the elections and the security would not be a concern “as long as organizers were willing to put in serious efforts.”
“If we always put fear and concerns first, there would never be elections,” Mahfud said on Saturday, as quoted by tempo.co. “These issues have always existed since long ago and we have the necessary instruments to resolve them.”
The coordinating minister said that he was optimistic the upcoming elections would be “calmer and safer” compared to the highly divisive 2019 presidential election, noting the lack of political-related violence months into the presidential candidate registration in November, as reported by kompas.com.
As of today, three people have declared their intention to run in the presidential race. They are Defense Minister and Gerindra Party Chairman Prabowo Subianto, Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo and former Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan.
Lawmakers have also voiced their disapproval of Bawaslu’s suggestion to delay the regional elections. Saan Mustopa of the NasDem Party, the deputy chairman of House Commission II overseeing home affairs, called on Bawaslu to refrain from “inciting disorder” ahead of the election.
“Security is the domain of the military and police. Bawaslu should just focus on supervising the elections so they’re held in a fair and honest matter,” Saan said.
A member of the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) echoed Saan’s dismissal, questioning Bawaslu’s intension as the agency, along with the election organizer , the General Election Commissions (KPU), had already agreed with the House on next year’s election date.
“Bawaslu should stop making political remarks,” said Junimart Girsang of PDI-P as reported by Antara.
Rahmat of Bawaslu said the idea to postpone the regional elections was just a thought conveyed during a discussion rather than official advise from the institution. He acknowledged that a postponement would require a revision of the 2014 Regional Elections Law.
“A law revision is the domain of the government and the House, not the election organizers. We’re just discussing some potential ideas,” Rahmat said on Friday, as quoted by kompas.com.