Jakarta. The government has refused to alter Indonesia’s current laws on regional elections, opting instead to extend the registration process for seven regional elections that face possible postponement for having less than two candidates.
Two cities and five districts have each registered only one candidate to run in the December regional elections, but government law prohibits the staging of political races with only on nominee. This means these regions would have to wait until the next round of elections in 2017 to choose a new leader.
Experts and politicians have expressed concern that the delay could lead to a leadership void, with some calling on the president to issue a government regulation in lieu of law, or perppu, which is issued only during an emergency to temporarily override existing laws.
President Joko Widodo shot down the suggestion even though a perppu draft had already been drawn up.
A perppu “is only issued during a time of emergency. This is not an emergency,” Joko said on Wednesday after staging an emergency consultation meeting with the General Elections Commission (KPU) as well as members of the legislative and judiciary agencies.
“There will be an additional [registration period] provided by the KPU. It has been proposed that the registration period will be extended by seven days. We shall see how things go after the seven days,” he said.
The KPU had already extended the registration period for 12 regions, including Surabaya in East Java; Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara; and Samarinda, East Kalimantan; Blitar and Pacitan, East Java; Tasikmalaya, West Java; and North Central Timor in East Nusa Tenggara, where only one interested candidate had signed up for December’s race.
Muhammad, chairman of the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu), said election organizers agreed that the second extension will not alter the current election schedule, meaning that the seven regions will likely join the 262 others in staging their elections on Dec 9.
The number of elections up for postponement my grow as the KPU is still in the process of verifying documents submitted by some 700 candidates, including their educational credentials.
The election committee has in the past revoked a candidate’s bid after it was discovered he had a fake diploma.
House of Representatives Speaker Setya conceded he had attempted to dissuade Joko from issuing a perppu, arguing that its emergency nature could have legal and political implications on the affected regional governments in the long term.
“The House must weigh in on the perppu. If lawmakers endorse [the perppu] then there’s no problem. But if they don’t and the perppu is rejected, the implications would include an annulment [of the election results],” he said prior to the consultation meeting.
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