Not Enough Reasons to Postpone the 2024 Election

Ilustrasi Pemilu di Indonesia sebelum masa pandemi (sumber:WikiMedia Commons/Jeromi Mikhael)

The absence of Tito Karnavian an Ex-Police chief then currently is the Minister of Home Affairs, in a joint meeting with Commission II of the House of Representatives (DPR) and the General Elections Commission (KPU), last Wednesday, October 6, just remains the confirmation of Government’s rejection on the General Election Commission’s (KPU) proposal to hold a vote on the upcoming February 21, 2024. This election administration body previously wanted preparation for 25 months or 5 months longer than the simultaneous election stages stipulated by Law Number 7 of 2017 concerning General Elections. However, the Government considers that the election schedule offered by the KPU to be too long and inefficient.

In the perspective of the government, the election stages that are started earlier can heat up the national and local political temperature, so that it can result in security disturbances. Therefore, the government has proposed three alternative voting schedules for the 2024 election, namely April 24, May 8, and May 15. The government, according to Tito, is worried that the Election Commission version of the election schedule will interfere with the development program that is being launched by the government. “The impact will be less conducive to the stability of security. There will be polarization at the elite and grassroots levels,” said Tito in a meeting with the House of Representatives, Election Commission, Supervisory Agency, and the Honorary Board of Election. on September 16, 2021.

Even so, the former Chief of the Indonesian Police did not elaborate on the differences in the security threats that would be posed on the two schedules. He only assumed that the government was responsible for maintaining security and political stability so that the performance of the local government, the central government in handling the Covid-19 pandemic crisis was solid. Meanwhile, the polarization caused by the election, according to him, has the potential to disturb the government’s focus.

One of the things that the government is paying attention to is the security situation in a number of areas, including in Mebramo Raya. This region has only inaugurated the elected regent in September 2021. With the voting schedule for February 21, 2024, Tito said, this region will again enter the legislative election stage in January 2022. At that time, the elected regent has only worked for three months. A similar situation will occur in Nabire, Boven Digoel, and Yalimo. Even this region has not yet determined an elected regional head as a result of the December 9 2020 regional head elections due to conflicts and disputes that have not been resolved.

Meanwhile, the national political situation is expected to heat up as a result of several crucial stages that have begun in 2022. In the process of registering and verifying political parties participating in the general election, for example, political parties are considered to have started to maneuver, not only working to attract people’s votes but also starting to fight for participation tickets in the 2024 General Elections. This will not only be carried out by non-parliamentary political parties, but also by new parties, including the Gelora Party, Ummat Party, Masyumi Party, Indonesian People’s Da’wah Party, People’s Party for the Fair and Prosperous, and the Labor Party. They are predicted to struggle to get equal treatment in election participation.

Four non-parliamentary political parties have even submitted a petition for judicial review of Law Number 7 of 2017 concerning Elections to the Constitutional Court (MK). The four political parties are the Crescent Star Party (PBB), the Beringin Karya (Berkarya) Party, the Perindo Party, and the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI). They claim to have legal standing to examine Article 173 Paragraph (1) of the Election Law which reads “Political Parties Contesting in the Election are political parties that have passed the verification by the Election Commission.”

In its inaugural session last September, these non-parliamentary political parties requested that the Constitutional Court divide the administrative and factual verification process of election participation into three categories. First, for parties that have participated in the 2019 General Election and are declared to have passed and have representatives in parliament, they no longer need to take part in verification, both factual and administrative. While the second category, political parties that have been verified by the administration, are factual and have participated in the last general election, but do not pass the parliamentary threshold, are sufficient for administrative verification. Meanwhile, thirdly, administrative and factual verification is carried out on new political parties that have never participated in an election at all.

In addition, the election process which is extended for up to 5 months is considered inefficient because it can consume the state budget. In fact, according to Tito, the efficiency of the election budget needs to be carried out because the government is focusing on restoring the national economy which has been slumped by the Covid-19 pandemic. Budget efficiency so that there is no waste in the implementation of the 2024 general election and local elections are also the Constitutional Court’s Decision No. 55/PUU-XVII/2019 regarding the simultaneous election.

In the 2024 General Election, the Election Commission will propose a total budget requirement of Rp. 86 trillion. There were three budget posts that experienced an increase, namely the salaries of election officers, office infrastructure, and operational vehicles. Around 70 percent of the total budget is recorded as an honorarium for ad hoc organizers which will be adjusted to the regional minimum wage of each regency/city. This figure is much larger than the previous election, which was only Rp 16 trillion in 2014 and Rp 27 trillion for holding the 2019 General Election.

Therefore, Tito asked the General Election to review the draft budget for the 2024 General Election. One of the budget items that the government has focused on is the plan to build General election offices in the regions. Rather than building, according to Tito, the KPU is better off using regional facilities. In the meeting on Thursday, September 16, Tito also suggested that the election administration budget be saved by shortening the stages, such as the campaign which was originally 7 months to 4 months.

The Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs (Menko Polhukam) Mahfud MD also suggested that the elections will be held on May 15, 2024. “The KPU schedule will make the election long ahead and long back. This means that the stages start early, and the gap between inauguration is too far,” Mahfud said in his press statement after the meeting which was also attended by Minister of State Secretary Pratikno, Minister of Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung, Minister of Home Affairs (Mendagri) Tito Karnavian, Minister of Law and Human Rights (Menkumham) Yasonna Laoly, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani, National Police Chief General Listyo Sigit Prabowo, TNI Commander Air Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, The Chief of General Election Commission (KPU) Ilham Saputra, and Head of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) General (ret) Budi Gunawan, on Monday, September 27.

When referring to the election schedule made by the KPU, the 2024 voting distance with the inauguration of the president and vice president could be up to 8 months. This is based on the presidential inauguration which usually takes place in October. Meanwhile, in the 2014 and 2019 elections, the gap between the inauguration and the voting was only 6 months.

Mahfud hopes that the election schedule will soon be decided. The reason is that the Election Law requires political parties wishing to participate in the election to be registered with the Ministry of Home Affairs at least 2.5 years before the election. “If the choice falls on May 15, then all new political parties can already prepare themselves. If there are still those who want to form a new party, the possibility is still open until early November 2021,” Mahfud said.

The General Elections Commissioner, I Dewa Kade Wiarsa Raka Sandi said that his party had completed a review of the voting schedule. They recommended that the stages of the general election start from January 2022 – April 2024. If there is a second round of presidential elections, then the stages will be extended until July 2024. While the stages of the 2024 Simultaneous Head election will begin in September 2023 – January 2025. Thus, the stages of the general election and regional elections will be overlap with stages that are not too crucial, such as discussion of programs and budgets, as well as the preparation of the List of Potential Voters for the 2024 Simultaneous Regional Head Elections (Pilkada). “The Election Commission has concluded that February 21, 2024, is the most ideal for voting because there will not be many stages of the general election and regional elections that intersect,” he said when interviewed on Thursday, October 7, 2021.

Dewa assessed that the overlapping stages would have an impact on the workload of the organizers. He doesn’t want the tragedy of the 2019 election that resulted in at least 894 officers dying and more than 5100 others getting sick due to fatigue. The Election Commission also wants to ensure that the simultaneous election stages are completed and the results can be determined before entering the important stages of the regional election. Because the results of the 2024 Simultaneous Elections will be the basis for the nomination of regional heads at the provincial, district/city levels.

Meanwhile, if the general election is held on May 15 according to the government’s wishes, there will be too many important stages that overlap. Among other things, the tiered vote recapitulation process will intersect with the verification process for the support of individual candidates. In addition, the schedule for nomination disputes and election results disputes in the Constitutional Court also has the potential to be unresolved when approaching the registration of regional head candidates. Not to mention if there is a second round of presidential elections, then the elections are unlikely to be held in November 2024. Therefore, the KPU is pushing for the revision of laws and the issuance of presidential regulations in lieu of laws (Perppu). In this change, the Election Commission will be asked the government and the Parliament to postpone the schedule of the regional head elections from November 2024 to February 2025.

The revision of this law is crucial because the KPU cannot immediately cut the campaign schedule according to the government’s wishes. Because the campaign schedule in the Election Law is set from three days after the determination of the candidate running-mates until 3 days before voting. At that time, the KPU also had to prepare campaign logistics in which all procurement and time were tied to the procedures for the procurement of goods and services. “The KPU hopes that there will be the best option that takes into account all aspects and does not focus on only one side. There are organizers’ rights, election participant rights, and also voters’ rights that must be fulfilled,” said Dewa.

Even so, according to lawmakers which also Deputy Chairman of Commission 2 of the House of Representatives, Saan Mustopa, the DPR, and the government have agreed that they will not change the Election Law. This politician from the Nasdem faction said that the election innovation and efficiency are sufficient to be regulated through The Election Commission’s regulations. If there is a need for a fundamental change at the level of a law, it will be proposed through a Perppu.

The House of Representatives, the Government, and the election organizers were originally set to continue discussing the general election in November 2021. Saan said that the discussion on the schedule was still protracted because the Government and the Election Commission had not yet had a single perception. The House was also polarized because there were those who agreed with the election Commission and those who agreed with Government proposals.

The factions that agreed with the Government’s proposal included Nasdem, Golkar, PAN, and Gerindra. Meanwhile, the PDIP, PPP, PKB, and PKS factions agreed to hold elections on February 21, 2024. “It is important to determine as soon as possible so that the stages are prepared. Because if it is not decided this year, it will create uncertainty,” said Saan in the National webinar on The Synergy between Election Organizers and Stakeholders to Succeed in the 2024 Election on Thursday, October 7, 2021.

The Nasdem Party faction in the Parliament encourages the Election Commission to design an efficient election implementation in terms of budget and stages. The development of digital technology, according to Saan, could be used by the Election Commission to cut the stages of the election. Saan said the use of the Sirekap application needs to be optimized to recapitulate the votes. In addition, the Election Commission also needs to simplify the ballot papers.

Meanwhile, a lawmaker of Commission 2 of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) faction at the House of Representatives, Mardani Ali Sera, warned the government to be careful when proposing an election schedule. He assessed that the government’s proposal did not pay attention to the KPU’s readiness to carry out the simultaneous regional elections in November 2024. “President Jokowi just simply join with the Election Commission only. The readiness of simulation has been completed and the Election Commission has sufficient preparation time so that our elections are of high quality,” he said via text message to Jaring on Wednesday, October 6, 2021.

Mardani considers the election schedule for May 15 to be too close to the regional head election. Meanwhile, the Government’s reasons for rejecting the February 21 election on the situation during the pandemic and the matter of security stability, according to him, were not strong enough. “The Positive mind (of the reasons) therefore to make the election more efficient. But you still have to be aware that other interests can be ridden,” he said.

The researcher of the Network for Democracy and Electoral Integrity (Netgrit) Hadar Nafis Gumay also considers the security reasons given by the government to reject the election schedule are not strong enough. In political contestation, the government should not be allergic to competition and polemics. Moreover, the issue of security is not the responsibility of the KPU. Whether the election is held in February or May 2021, it is the Indonesian police who need to ensure the security issues for the democratization process.

He criticized the Government’s steps to interfere too much with the Election Commission in formulating the election schedule. Even though the position of the Government and the Parliament should only give consideration to the Election Commission. Moreover, the Government, the Parliament, and the Election Commission have formed a joint working team since March 2021 to discuss the implementation of the 2024 General Election and Presidential Election. “The government’s attitude is disappointing and does not respect the KPU as an independent institution. If there are considerations, it should be enough to convey to the Election Commission only. There is no need to set a date and make the own simulation,” he said when interviewed on Thursday, October 7, 2021.

Hadar emphasized that in the terms of holding elections, the Election Commission has the right to consider workload as the main factor in the formulation of the stages of the election. Moreover, from the organizer’s point of view, they will also be faced with the agenda of changing commissioners, both the Election Commission and the Supervisory Agency, at the central, provincial, and district/city levels. “Instead of the government making detailed simulations, the government should simply convey their views. The better is; let Let the Election Commission decide and determine. It also shows there is mutual respect among the institutions,” he concluded.

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