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 Direct elections reinstated

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BerichtOnderwerp: Direct elections reinstated    Direct elections reinstated  Icon_minitimewo 21 jan 2015 - 22:54

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta,Wednesday January 21 2015

Following the unanimous endorsement of two regulations in lieu of law (Perppu) to reinstate direct elections for regional heads, the House of Representatives and the government are now working against the clock to settle differences over technicalities, with registration for candidates to contest this year’s 204 regional elections set to open in less than a month.

The House was given the option on Tuesday to either endorse or reject the Perppu, with their content to be deliberated only once they had been approved.

All 10 of the political factions at the House approved the two Perppu regulating the issue, No. 1/2014 on local elections and No. 2/2014 on regional administration, but the majority of them also requested changes to stipulations deemed problematic.

The list of problematic stipulations includes the role of the General Elections Commission (KPU) in managing local elections; the procedure for voters to register to participate in the elections; requirements for candidates to run in the elections; and a fixed schedule for local elections to take place simultaneously.

“We really appreciate lawmakers’ endorsement of the Perppu so that we can reinstate direct elections. We are open to discussion of revisions needed to improve the regulations,” Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo told a House plenary meeting on Tuesday.

According to the newly endorsed regulations, the General Elections Commission (KPU) and the regional Elections Supervisory Committee (Panwaslu) have been reinstated as the organizers of local elections. Law No. 22/2014, which was endorsed last year by the House and which scrapped direct elections for regional leaders, gave the authority to organize elections to the regional legislative councils (DPRDs).

Following the endorsement, lawmakers began to debate the details of how the elections would proceed.

In addition to improvements in voter registration so as to encourage equal participation, some lawmakers also demanded revision of requirements for candidates to run in local elections.

A majority of factions have proposed “package” nominations in order to allow a political party or a coalition of political parties to endorse candidates together with their running mates.

This contradicts the newly endorsed Perppu, which allows elected local heads to later appoint their deputies, stipulations on the nominee making no mention of a candidate’s running mate.

Article 7 of the regulations, meanwhile, stipulates that there must be a public review of candidates lasting between three and five months.

The Golkar Party has demanded a shorter period of public review, claiming that a lengthy process could delay the whole election procedure.

The new regulations also aim to prevent the formation of political dynasties in local politics.

Article 7, for instance, stipulates that wives, husbands or children of an incumbent may not run in local elections, and can only join the race two terms after their relative’s tenure ends.

However, parties including the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) have called for a more lenient stipulation, fearing the rule may strip people of their political rights.

Then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono issued the Perppu in October following public outcry against his Democratic Party’s decision to walk out of a plenary session held to vote on the scrapping of direct elections.

Political factions supporting the conservation of local elections were outnumbered in a direct vote following the Democratic Party’s decision to abstain.

Many accused Yudhoyono of lying and working behind the scenes to scrap direct elections while issuing public statements in their favor.

Following the reinstatement of the direct-election system for regional heads, the KPU said that it would draft a number of recommendations on how best to amend the Perppu.

“However, we haven’t made any formal decision. We will have a meeting tomorrow but we’ve already had some input from experts,” KPU commissioner Hadar Nafis Gumay told reporters at the commission’s headquarters in Menteng, Central Jakarta, on Tuesday.

Hadar said that the recommendations would aim at allowing the KPU to work more efficiently in organizing dozens of local elections simultaneously.

One of the recommendations would include revamping the institutions tasked with settling election disputes, he revealed.

“One of the things that we could recommend is to reduce the length of direct regional elections. There are some stages that are too long, such as the registration of pre-candidates six months before the registration of candidates.”

Key articles

Article 1: Elections for governors, regents and mayors take place directly and democratically and uphold the principles of honesty, freedom and justice.

Article 3: Local elections will take place simultaneously throughout the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia every five years.

Article 7: Candidates must undergo public review and must not have family ties with incumbents.

Article 8: Election organizers include the General Elections Commission (KPU) and its regional offices.

Article 40: Political parties or coalitions of political parties must secure at least 20 percent of seats in Provincial Legislative Councils (DPRDs) or a minimum of 25 percent of the vote in regional legislative elections to nominate candidates.

Article 201: Simultaneous elections will take place in 2015 to select local leaders whose terms end in 2015; and in 2018 for those whose terms end in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

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