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Financing Local Elections: National Budget or Regional Budget?

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Financing is one of many important aspects in implementing local elections. The availability of money to funds the implementation determine the success of the local elections. Any insufficiency in funding department may delay the implementation of Indonesian local elections that will be held in 2018 and 2024.

In regards with the importance of financing in local elections, it is therefore also important to ask whether it would be better to finance local elections with the National State Budget (APBN) or Regional State Budget (APBD). While many experts say that it is better for local elections to be financed by APBD of each area implementing local election, on the contrary I, in this article, would like to argue that it would be better for local elections to be financed by APBN, because it will guarantee the success of concurrent elections, preventing corruption and abuse of power, and make the financing more efficient.

The first positive thing we can get from financing local elections with APBN is that it can guarantee the success of concurrent elections. Elections management bodies (EMBs) like KPU and Bawaslu do not have to worry that there will be some electoral areas that cannot implement the electoral process due to budgetary problem.

Each local area in Indonesia has different financial ability with each other. The use of local budget for electoral process in some areas will definitely hamper the development project of that area. Meanwhile, the use of APBN will definitely ease the financial burden for local government to finance the local electoral process.

The use of APBN will also prevent incumbent candidate to abuse their power over local budget to win the election. In many cases, incumbent candidate often use their authority to determine the amount of electoral budget to enhance their chance of getting reelected. The Election Commission (KPU) and the Election Monitoring Body (Bawaslu) cannot freely plan the electoral budget because they have to ask for incumbent’s permission first before they can use the budgetary plan.

In addition, the use of APBN for local elections will also make the electoral financing more efficient. Centralizing electoral budget allows local government to calculate their own budget while at the same time synchronizing the budget at regency/municipality level and province level. This in turn will make the electoral budget in general more efficient.

In addition, at national level, if the use of APBN really guarantees the success of concurrent elections, then it will also contribute to the strengthening of presidential system in Indonesia. Concurrent elections can strengthen presidential system because it will produce local heads of administration that have the same terms of office with the president. Therefore, the failure of concurrent elections may lead to the failure to establish a more solid government.

It is therefore important for local elections to be financed by national budget (APBN). It will have significant effect for the improvement of electoral implementation and the government it produces.

The government does not seem too eager to change the local elections financing scheme from APBD to APBN despite the fact that they have revised the Elections Law so many times. I hope one day the government will change local elections financing scheme so we will have more efficient and effective elections. []

NOTATEMA GEA

Someone who concerns about Indonesian democracy

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