Direct election law to undergo big changes

The newly endorsed law on direct elections for local leaders is expected to face major changes as lawmakers are planning to include new stipulations in addition to revising some articles deemed disadvantageous to politicians, including an article that prevents the formation of political dynasties.

The majority of the 10 factions in the House of Reprsentatives have proposed to revise “problematic articles” on major issues, like the role of the General Elections Commission (KPU) in managing local elections, the procedure for voters to participate in the elections, the requirements for candidates to run in the elections and the schedules for simultaneous elections.

Lawmakers from Commission II, which is tasked to deliberate on the amendments to the law, have also voiced new ideas that are not yet in the existing draft.

Lawmaker Rambe Kamarulzaman, who leads the House’s commission that oversees domestic governance, regional autonomy, state apparatus and agrarian affairs, declined to talk about the details as the discussions had yet to formally begin. However, he said he believed that “including new stipulations will be necessary to improve the existing law”.

“Whatever we will include in the draft is meant to make it perfect,” said the Golkar politician on Wednesday.

Commission II will kick off the deliberation process on Thursday and will aim to complete it before the end of the current sitting session on Feb. 18.

Following the defeat of their candidate, Prabowo Subianto, to Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in the July 9 presidential election, the Red-and-White Coalition changed the political system of direct local elections just before the House’s 2009-2014 term ended in October. Law No. 22/2014 granted the right to elect mayors, regents and governors to local legislative councils (DPRD).

However, after a massive public outcry erupted and before his 10-year presidential term ended, then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono issued two regulations in lieu of law (Perppu) on local elections and on regional administration to annul the newly enacted Law No. 22.

Among the stipulations deemed problematic in the Perppu were articles on eligibility requirements for candidates.

  • deem – menganggap, mempertimbangkan
  • deeming – anggapan

This includes Article 38 that requires candidates to undergo public reviews of at least three-months’ duration by a special committee.

Besides protesting the length of time, which lawmakers argued would eventually require more funds, majority lawmakers have also questioned the necessity of involving external parties in reviewing the competency of candidates.

Several lawmakers, such as Romahurmuziy of the United Development Party (PPP) and Mustafa Kamal of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), recommend a shorter time for the public review of candidates, while Golkar’s lawmakers want them to be conducted internally.

“Why not give the job to review the candidates to the [political] parties that nominate them, instead of to a committee?” asked Rambe.

Additionally, lawmakers have also proposed a “one-package” nominations that would allow a political party or coalition of political parties to endorse candidates together with running mates, which is unlike the current draft that would allow elected leaders to appoint their deputies.

A request to reconsider banning political dynasties has also gained traction as lawmakers believe it might strip people of their political rights.

“We’ve also received such a request from our members. For us in the PPP, the most important thing is the integrity of the people and not their family ties,” Romahurmuziy said.



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