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Is Our Election Cheap or Expensive?

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The preliminary process for the 2018 Concurrent Local Elections has begun. One of the issue we need to focus on in regards with the election process is the election budget. The question whether election in our country is cheap or expensive to hold keeps being asked by so many people. However, there is one aspect that never been thoroughly examined about our electoral budget, that is the political aspect of that budgeting process by local government.

One of the people who keeps complaining about the cost of our election is none other than the Minister of Home Affairs, Tjahjo Kumolo. In a public seminar in Yogyakarta, Tjahjo said, “with all due respect, on my first day as minister, I thought I could economize the cost to run the 2015 Local Elections. I beg your pardon for the fact that it cost us 200 percent more than the previous local elections.

In assessing the political aspect of elections budgeting, we need to see how much money does a local government have (annual regional income) and compare it with the approved electoral budget. Here is the data from the 2015 Local Elections:

Province

Regional Income

Approved Election Budget

Comparison

(In billion rupiah)

(in billion rupiah)

(In percentage)

Riau Island

8,410.02

62.50

0.74%

West Sumatera

4,058.10

78.00

1.92%

South Kalimantan

4,838.95

110.00

2.27%

Bengkulu

2,186.62

62.24

2.85%

Central Sulawesi

2,884.56

85.07

2.95%

Central Kalimantan

3,255.69

102.20

3.14%

Jambi

3,207.13

101.00

3.15%

North Kalimantan

1,444.52

92.00

6.37%

Based on the 4th Quarterly Economic Research of Bank of Indonesia of 2015, the smallest regional income is the income of North Kalimantan province at 1.4 trillion rupiah. Meanwhile, the biggest income is Riau Island’s at 8.4 trillion rupiah.

However, the amount of regional income is not proportionate with the amount of approved election budget. According to the quarterly research, the amount of approved election budget in local areas are between 62.24 to 110 billion rupiah. The smallest approved budget is Bengkulu’s, while the biggest is South Kalimantan’s.

Budget-to-Voters Ratio

Province

Total Voters

Approved Election Budget

Election budget per voter

(In billion rupiah)

(In rupiah)

West Sumatera

3,489,743

78.00

22,351.22

South Kalimantan

2,848,478

110.00

38,617.11

Jambi

2,445,305

101.00

41,303.64

Central Sulawesi

1,954,123

85.07

43,534.22

Bengkulu

1,423,974

62.24

43,709.08

Riau Island

1,198,925

62.50

52,130.03

Central Kalimantan

1,955,961

102.20

52,250.53

North Kalimantan

431,782

92.00

213,070.48

We cannot be talking about the political aspect of election budgeting without considering the budget-to-voters ratio. According to the data provided by the Elections Commission on their official website (data.kpu.go.id), we can see that North Kalimantan province has the least voters of only five hundred thousand registered voters. Meanwhile, West Sumatera has the most voters with 3.5 million registered voters.

If we use the total number of voters in every province as a divisor index to the total amount of approved election budget, we can see a huge difference of budget-to-voters ratio between provinces. In North Kalimantan, the election cost per voter is 213,070.48 rupiah. However, the second highest election cost per voter is Central Kalimantan’s with 52,250.53 rupiah. Meanwhile, the lowest election cost per voter is West Sumatera’s with only IDR 22,351.22.

Based on that fact, we can conclude that the approved election budget in all provinces in Indonesia is still less than 10 percent of regional income. Out of eight provinces mentioned above, only North Kalimantan provincial government who provided 6.37 percent of their regional income as election budget. The rest of the seven provinces provide less than 5 percent. The Province of Riau even provide less than 1 percent, that is 0.74 percent to be exact.

In average, the cost for running a local election for local administration is around twenty two thousand to fifty two thousand rupiah per voter.

Is it too expensive? It depends. However, if we want to answer that question, we need to consider whether the cost is worth the improvement that it will bring to the population of the province.[]

PURNOMO S. PRINGGODIGDO

A Commissioner of KPU of Surabaya

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