Indonesia prepares for simultaneous regional elections

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has announced the country’s first simultaneous elections for regional heads will be a national holiday, to the delight of school children and office workers.

The elections, scheduled for December 9, will take place in nine provinces, 224 regencies and 36 cities.

The next batch of local elections is scheduled to be held in February 2017 in seven provinces, 76 regencies and 18 cities. In June 2018, polls for local chiefs will be held in 17 provinces, 115 regencies and 39 cities.

Revelations of fake documents, infighting between rival factions within political parties, legal and health status of candidates, as well as other administrative issues have marred the upcoming December elections.

However, the government insists that they will go ahead as scheduled.

Simultaneous, nationwide local elections will be held in 2027. Elected governors will be inaugurated at the same time by the president afterwards.

The Indonesian Constitutional Court in July ruled in favour of a petition to repeal an article in the Regional Election  Law banning family members of an incumbent from running for executives positions.

The court argued that the Constitution guarantees the right of every individual to elect and be elected.

Vote count in Indonesia elections
Vote count in Indonesia elections

Political dynasties

The court’s ruling has drawn heavy criticism, as the provision in the election law was intended to rein in dynasty politics, which has become entrenched in Indonesia since decentralization was introduced in 2001.

Legal experts and democracy activists say the practices of patronage, nepotism, cronyism and rent seeking have led to the embezzlement of massive amounts of money from regional coffers

The petitioner, Adnan Purichta Ichsan, is a member of the South Sulawesi Regional Representatives Council (DPRD) and is the son of incumbent Gowa Regent Ichsan Yasin Limpo and nephew of current South Sulawesi Governor Syahrul Yasin Limpo.

Adnan’s grandfather Muhammad was also a former Gowa regent.

Adnan is planning to run in the upcoming regional election scheduled in December this year, seeking to replace his father as Gowa regent. The Limpo family also has brothers, sisters, sons and in-laws in key posts in regional legislatures and the House of Representatives (DPR).

There are dozens of family dynasties that rule in different parts of Indonesia, creating concern that nepotism is taking a whole new level in regional elections, a practice despised by the majority of Indonesians.

Another notorious family dynasty in Indonesian politics is Ratu Atut Chosiyah, former governor of Banten who is currently in jail for corruption.

Atut has dozens of family members in top posts in Banten province at regency, city and provincial levels, including in regional legislative bodies and party leadership.


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