Simultaneous local elections to begin in 2016

Simultaneous local elections will take place next year as the majority of political factions in the House of Representatives agreed to move the schedule back a year from the original plan within this year as stipulated by the newly endorsed Law No. 1/2015, which is still under revision.

Although House Commission II, which is supposed to deliberate the revision, has yet to formalize the decision, lawmakers from the commission that oversaw governance, regional autonomy, state apparatus and agrarian affairs believed that the remaining time available would hamper the General Elections Commission (KPU) from organizing quality elections.

“Thus we agreed to move elections that are scheduled this year to February next year, which will be the first round of [regional] elections to take place,” Commission II chairman Rambe Kamarulzaman said on Tuesday.

He added that the next round of local elections to take place simultaneously would be in 2017 and 2018, a year before the country holds the presidential election.

As such, a decision was included in the list of stipulations of the existing law to be amended. Rambe, a politician from the Golkar Party, explained that a working committee was examining measures to take to regulate all local elections.

Commission II noted that there would be some 230 vacant positions for governors, mayors and regents until the first round of simultaneous elections next year. The posts would arguably be temporarily taken over by the deputies or regional secretaries.

“We are still comprehensively discussing it. Anyhow, all vacant positions must not last longer than one year,” Rambe said.

  • anyhow – paling tidak

Besides agreeing to postpone simultaneous regional elections until next year, Commission II’s working committee also agreed to simplify a requirement for the public review of candidates to allow political parties or coalitions of political parties to take the lead to do so.

This is contradictory to Article 38 of the existing law that requires candidates to undergo a three-month public review by an independent committee in order to promote transparency as well as-accountability.

Excluding such an independent committee will also pose a question on who will review independent candidates.

The committee also agreed to endorse a one-package nomination that will allow political parties or a coalition of political parties to nominate a one pair ticket unlike the existing law, which allowed local heads to appoint their own deputies.

  • appoint – menunjuk, mengangkat

The list of revisions additionally includes a stipulation on a minimum threshold of only 25 percent of the total votes for candidates to win the elections.

Contacted separately, KPU Commissioner Hadar Nafis Gumay applauded Commission II’s decision to halt the simultaneous elections until next year.

  • threshold – ambang batas
  • applauded – menghargai
  • halt – menghentikan

“From the very beginning the new law was endorsed, we have made all preparations to organize simultaneous elections in regions within this year,” Hadar said.

“However, the choice to halt it until next year is better to adapt to the national elections later in 2019 that will allow us to work even better,” he added.

The House decision to move the schedule to 2016 has also raised support from election watchdogs, such as the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem).

However, Perludem encouraged the House and the government to prepare a reward mechanism for all regional leaders who might retire ahead of terms in order to comply with the election schedule.

“This is important to ensure justice while at the same time avoiding possible conflict,” Titi Anggraini of Perludem said.

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