Home Special Coverage More Than 60.65 Percent of Incumbent Candidates Win Local Elections of 2017

More Than 60.65 Percent of Incumbent Candidates Win Local Elections of 2017

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There are 37 incumbent candidates who win the 2017 Local Elections out of 61 participating incumbent candidates (data from infopilkada.kpu.go.id). There might be more incumbent candidates who are likely to win the election because until today the Election Commission (KPU) has not finished recapitulating all the votes. Incumbent candidates have the authority to decide the amount of budget needed to run the election in his jurisdiction and this fact might help them to strengthen their predominance over other candidates. The predominance of incumbent candidates is highly visible in 9 electoral areas where there is only one participating candidate.

Out of 37 victorious incumbent candidates in this year’s local elections, there are 16 candidates (43.24 percent) who were participating with their previous deputy (deputy governor, vice-regent, or vice-mayor). There are 13 candidates (35.13 percent) who were participating with different deputy candidate, and they did not compete against their former deputy. Meanwhile, there are 7 winning candidates (18.9 percent) who competed against their former deputy.

According to Oxford Dictionary, “incumbent” means (an official or regime) currently holding office. Based on that definition, “incumbent” does not only mean an election candidate who currently holding office. The term also includes all deputy like deputy governor, vice-regent, or vice-mayor.

If we include the deputy, then there are 25 winning incumbent candidates who were deputies in their previous term in this year’s local elections. 16 of them (64 percent) are participating in the election as a deputy for the same partner as their previous election (maintain partnership with the incumbent candidate). Only 3 (12 percent) deputy incumbent candidates who were able to win the election against the local head incumbent candidate. Meanwhile, there are 6 (24 percent) deputy incumbent candidates who were victorious without having to compete against the local head incumbent candidate.

All Incumbent Candidates Decided the Election Budget

There are many factors behind the predominance of incumbent candidates in local elections. It could be that voters feel somehow satisfied with incumbent’s performance as local leader and they want the incumbent to continue his/her work for the next term. Or it could be that voters think that the other candidates are no better that the current administrative leader.

However, there is one factor that certainly helps cementing the predominance of incumbent candidates in local elections, that is election budget. The General Secretary of Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (Fitra), Yenny Soetjipto, explains that the amount of election budget proposed by the Election Commission must first be approved by the incumbent before it can be used to run the election. Therefore, an incumbent candidate has the authority to decide how much money will be disbursed to organize an election. Incumbent candidate is, in a sense, the fund donor, while the election management body is the receiver.

“Within this context, we have every reason to doubt the independence of our election management bodies. This is why the government should finance election with National State Budget instead of Regional State Budget,” says Yenny.

This privilege over the election budget also creates unequal competition among candidates. This clearly violates the free and fair principles which is the core value of Indonesian elections.

Incumbent candidates tend to easily approve the proposed election budget. In many cases incumbent candidate approves the entire (100 percent) election budget proposed by the Election Commission. In several cases, they even approve more than what the Election Commission proposes.

Electoral Areas in 2017 Local Elections Where the Incumbent Candidate Approve Proposed Election Budget 100 Percent or More

No

Electoral Area

Total Voters

Proposed Budget (in billion rupiah)

Budget Realization (in billion rupiah)

Difference (in billion rupiah)

Approved by incumbent (in percent

Cost of election per voter (in rupiah)

Incumbent win/lose

1

Buol, Central Sulawesi Province

95,753

20,8

29,6

8,8

142,26

309,626

Win

2

Jayapura, Papua Province

132,094

30

38,3

8,3

127,85

290,354

Win

3

Ambon, Maluku Province

237,627

24,4

26,4

2,0

108,23

111,330

Win

4

Nduga, Papua Province

94,071

59,8

61,8

1,9

103,29

657,450

Not decided yet

5

Mappi, Papua Province

69,809

63,8

63,8

0

100

914,954

Not decided yet

6

Intan Jaya, Papua Province

79,337

66,8

66,8

0

100

842,040

Not decided yet

7

West Muna, Southeast Sulawesi Province

51,495

22,4

22,4

0

100

436,703

Win

8

Buton, Southeast Sulawesi Province

71,527

24,6

24,6

0

100

344,506

Win

9

Puncak Jaya, Papua Province

179,144

59,9

59,9

0

100

334,919

Not decided yet

10

Buru, Maluku Province

94,688

19

19

0

100

200,659

Win

11

Bolaang Mongondow, North Sulawesi

167,551

25,3

25,3

0

100

151,479

Win

12

Cimahi, West Java

375,722

34,5

34,5

0

100

91,886

Lose

13

West Tulang Bawang, Lampung Province

197,263

15

15

0

100

76,041

Win

14

Buleleng, Bali Province

583,381

40,2

40,2

0

100

68,953

Win

15

Jakarta Special Capital Region

7,108,589

478,3

478,3

0

100

67,295

Win

16

Yogyakarta Special Region

298,989

14,9

14,9

0

100

49,893

Win

17

Kulon Progo, Yogyakarta Special Region Province

332,211

14,3

14,3

0

100

43,130

Win

18

Bekasi, West Java

1,974,831

72,1

72,1

0

100

36,537

Win

19

Pati, Central Java

1,034,256

29,7

29,7

0

100

28,809

Win

According to the data from infopilkada.kpu.go.id, there is only one electoral area where the incumbent candidate is lost even though he has approved the proposed election budget 100 percent, that is Cimahi. The incumbent candidate in Cimahi local election is currently a suspect for a corruption case. This is probably the main reason why the incumbent candidate lost the election.

There are four areas where the result of the election is not conclusive yet. All are in Papua Province: Nduga, Mappi, Intan Jaya, and Puncak Jaya. In all of these areas, there is at least one incumbent candidate. Based on past experience, it is highly probable that the incumbent candidate will win the local election in these four areas.

We feel obligated to mention that it is not our intention to draw a conclusion on the causal relationship between election budget and the predominance of incumbent candidate in local elections. What we are trying to suggest is that the authority possessed by incumbent candidate to approve election budget is often violating the free and fair principle.

Domination of Single Candidates

The most glaring form of domination of incumbent candidate in Indonesian local elections is single candidacy, that is a situation where there is only one candidate participating in an election. In this year’s local election, there are 9 electoral areas with only one candidate participating. In all of those nine areas, every single candidate wins the election (in a single candidate election, voters choose between the candidate and and empty column).

Electoral Area

Name of candidate

Profession of candidate (local leader)

Profession of candidate (deputy of local leader)

Number of seats of supporting political parties in parliament

Total number of seat in parliament

% of parliamentary support

% of votes

Tebing Tinggi, North Sumatera Province

Umar Zunaidi Hasibuan & Oki Doni Siregar

Mayor

Vice-Mayor

19

25

76

71,39

West Tulang Bawang, Lampung Province

Umar Ahmad & Fauzi Hasan

Regent

Vice-Regent

30

30

100

96,75

Landak, West Kalimantan

Karolin Marget Natasa & Herculanus Heriadi;

Parliament member

Vice-Regent

32

35

91.43

96,62

Pati, Central Java

Haryanto & Saiful Arifin

Regent

Entrepreneur

46

50

92

74,52

Buton, Southeast Sulawesi

Samsu Umar Abdul Saimun & La Bakry

Regent

Vice-Regent

20

25

80

55,08

Central Maluku, Maluku

Tuasikal Abua & Marlatu Leleury

Regent

Vice-Regent

34

40

85

70,78

Sorong, West Papua

Lambert Jitmau & Pahima Iskandar

Mayor

Vice-Mayor

27

30

90

79,73

Tambrauw, West Papua

Gabriel Asem & Mesak Metusala Yekwan

Regent

Civil Servants

19

20

95

No final result yet

Jayapura, Papua

Benhur Tommy Mano & Rustan Saru

Parliament member

Vice-Mayor

29

40

72.5

84,81

It is safe to say that all electoral area with single candidate are predominated by incumbent candidate. Out of the nine areas, in seven of them the incumbent candidate win the election. Meanwhile, in Landak and Jayapura, the incumbent candidate is the previous vice or deputy leader because the incumbent local leader is not allowed to participate as he has already served for two terms.

Basically, the plurality election system which is implemented in the Local Elections of 2015, 2017, and later will also be implemented in 2018, has strengthen the domination of incumbent candidate. Candidate with more money and other resources have become more likely to win than other candidates.

The regulations made by the government has made it more difficult for independent candidate to participate in election. Meanwhile, candidates from political party are able to participate in election without any significant contender. Laws No.10/2016 on Local Elections regulates that every candidate from political party shall be supported by at least 20 percent of parliament members in the Local Parliament (DPRD) or has at least 25 percent votes in the previous local election.

The Deputy of the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem), Khoirunisa Nur Agustyati, argues that the minimum parliament support is not a relevant requirement for election participation for candidate because local election in Indonesia now is run concurrently.

“Without the threshold, it does not mean that there will be too many candidates will participate in local elections. Political parties will deliberately consider their candidate’s favorability, and would not risk unfavorable candidate. On the other hand, voters will have more better alternative of candidates,” says Khoirunisa (02/17).

Incumbent predominance is an important issue to discuss as a means to improve the next election quality. This is not to criticize the result of election where the incumbent is victorious. We also are not meant to lay a base for anti-incumbent sentiment.

After the 2017 Local Elections, we will be having the 2018 Local Election which will be held by 172 electoral areas, 17 of them are provinces, including West Java, Central Java, and East Java, the three provinces with the highest population in Indonesia. We need a fundamental change to improve our election quality by revising the Local Elections Law. []

USEP HASAN SADIKIN

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