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Discuss the Election Law Bill Immediately

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Indonesia will make a history in 2019. For the first time ever, Indonesia will hold concurrent elections to elect president, members of the national parliament (DPR), members of the lower house parliament (DPD), members of provincial parliament, and members of regency/municipality parliament at the same time. Since the first election in 1955, and since the start of Reformation era in 1999, there has not been any election as massive as the upcoming 2019 Elections in scale and magnitude.

Such massive election will certainly need better preparation. A concurrent election as massive as the 2019 Elections will also be more complex than any previous election: how do election management bodies implement technical details to conduct five different elections on the same day.

Many Challenges

In order to prepare for the 2019 Concurrent Elections, the biggest challenge would be to prepare for the regulations. It is the duty of the Government and members of Parliament to prepare for the election regulations. For the upcoming 2019 Elections, the Government and Parliament will have to compound at least three different laws: Law on Election Management Bodies, Law on Presidential Elections, and Law on Legislative Elections. Even though, ideally, Law on Local Election should also be included in legal framework for concurrent elections.

In regards with time constraint, preparing for election regulations will take a lot of time. Based on the experience in preparing Law No.8/2012, the Government will need at least two years to prepare the regulations. It is noteworthy that Law No.8/2012 regulates only the legislative elections of 2014.

According to the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem), the Government and Parliament were start preparing for the Law No.8/2012 since 2010, and they began discussing the bill since July 2011, and the law is completed in April 2012. As for today, the Government as the initiator of the 2019 Elections, is still debating on election system. Ideally, the Government should immediately finish the bill so that it can be discussed with members of the Parliament.

Given the fact that the third trimester of 2016 has coming to an end, the Government is running out of time to discuss the election law bill. In addition, there will be several other political events that will certainly need to be attended by the Government. The first one will be the 2017 Local Elections, which will be started in February 2017, even though the pre-election period will already begin in July 2016.

The second event will be the revision for the Election Law, because the Government is usually revise election regulation right after the implementation of election. The third event will be the 2018 Local Elections that will be held in June 2018, as mandated by the Law No.8/2015.

In regards with the 2018 Local Elections, there will be overlapping schedule with the 2019 National Elections. This will overwhelm EMBs with all of their staffs. There are 17 provinces and 156 regencies/municipalities that will hold local elections in the 2018 Local Elections. Half of the 17 provinces that will hold local elections in 2018 will also have to prepare for the 2019 National Elections.

This is clearly not an easy task for EMBs. It would be convenient for those EMBs to conduct a simulation before actually conducting the elections. They should calculate every potential obstacles and challenges that might occur in the elections, and look for solutions to solve them. EMBs can only conducted such simulation if the Government had already completed the bill for the election law. Therefore, the Government should immediately discuss and execute the bill.

Other than the 2018 Local Elections and the 2019 National Elections, the Government and Parliament should also consider the selection process for the new members of Election Commission (KPU) and Election Monitoring Body (Bawaslu). The term of office for the current members of KPU and Bawaslu will end in April 2017. As the consequence, the Government will have to start the preparation for the selection process since October or November 2016. This event will somewhat hamper the discussion and finalization process of the election law bill.

The Commitment of Government

To answer those challenges, the Government should immediately complete the election law bill and submit it to the Parliament. It is the only they can immediately discuss and execute the Election Law. President Joko Widodo clearly has the commitment to develop a better political system and democracy in Indonesia. Such commitment is expressly stated in the list of political programs established by President during his election campaign.

The Government can only fulfill such commitment by completing and finalizing the election law bill. President Joko Widodo should learn from the preparation process of the 2009 Elections.

For the 2009 Elections, the Government completed the main regulations for the elections only 13 months before the voting day. As the consequence, the Government did not have enough time to prepare and conduct electoral simulation. The result was disappointing: the Government had to alter several regulations during the election process.

I really hope the current government is able to immediately complete the bill for election law and discuss it with members of the Parliament. I have to remind you once again: the 2019 Election Law will be the main foundation for a better electoral system and democracy in Indonesia. []

Fadli Ramadhanil

Researcher for the Association for Election and Democracy (Perludem)

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