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Aceh’s Local Election in 2017 Is More Peaceful Than in 2012

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2017 Aceh’s Local Election is the biggest local election implementation out of seven provinces that run the 2017 Concurrent Local Elections in Indonesia. The Independent Voting Committee (KIP) of Aceh run provincial election, four municipal elections, and sixteen regency elections.

Based on the observation made by one of researcher of the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem), Kholilullah Pasaribu, Aceh’s Local Election in 2017 is relatively peaceful. There were violations, but in general there was not any case that causes significant damage.

“Aceh’s Local Election this year is the most peaceful local election in Aceh since this region first implement local election in 2006. All participants utilize all available democratic options, including independent candidacy. The election management body (EMB) has also successfully handled and muffled violent and provocative acts. I congratulate the local EMB, political parties, and Aceh citizen in general for the election success,” says Kholilullah to Rumah Pemilu (02/27).

One noteworthy achievement in this year’s Aceh Local Election is that local parties of Aceh is now willing to form coalition with national political parties. Previously, coalition between local and national parties is considered as unpopular strategy. There are two candidates in the election that were supported by the coalition of local and national parties.

Candidate number 5, Muzakir Manaf, is supported by Aceh Party (PA), Grand Indonesia Movement (Gerindra), Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS), and Party of Moon and Star (PBB).

Candidate number 6, Irwandi Yusuf, is supported by Aceh National Party (PNA), Aceh Peaceful Party (PDA), Indonesia Democracy Party-Struggle (PDI-P), Democrat Party, and Nation Awakening Party (PKB).

“Previously, local parties are hesitant to form coalition with national parties, especially Aceh Party which possesses a lot of seats in the Parliament they are able to support their candidate by themselves. Now, political parties seem to seek the opportunity to form the best possible coalition with other parties,” says Kholilullah.

In addition, we also need to appreciate the fact that there are a lot of independent candidates in Aceh’s local election this year and no area with single candidate. In governorship election, there are three independent candidates. In regency and municipality elections, there are 30 participating independent candidates. They participated in Langsa, Lhokseumawe, Sabang, East Aceh, Central Aceh, West Aceh, Pidie, North Aceh, Bireun, Southwest Aceh, Gayo Lues, Nagan Raya, Aceh Tamiang, and Bener Meriah.

“In the previous local election (2012), many people perceived independent candidate negatively. They thought Aceh Party alone is enough to wholly represent the interest of Aceh’s people. However, in this year’s election, many ideologues of the Aceh Party like Zaini Abdullah and Zakaria Saman were participating independently,” says Kholilullah.

Other noteworthy achievement is the decrease of the number of violent acts. According to the latest report released by Perludem, there were only 26 cases of violent acts in this year’s Aceh local election. This number is significantly lower than last local election, which was 162 cases.

However, the 26 cases only include violent acts that occurred before the voting day. It does not include violent acts occurred during voting day where, according to report from Aceh Local Election Observers Coalition, there were 16 violations and violent acts.

Kholilullah says Aceh citizens and election participants are now tend to resolve their political conflict more peacefully and legally. Many times the election management body and other authoritative bodies successfully prevent and resolve violent acts and provocations in elections.

“As usual, there were indeed several acts to provoke voters in election, but they failed to invoke emotional response from voters,” says Kholilullah.

It is expected that the quality of Aceh’s Local Election will improve in the future. In order to achieve that, KIP and Aceh’s Election Monitoring Body should maintain the integrity of EMBs and enforce the law.

“Aceh’s first local election was held only a few months after the Reconciliation (between Indonesia and Aceh rebels). At that time, the voters turnout was 91 percent. Many experts from around the world cite Aceh as a successful example of election post-transition,” says the Director of PACTA Finland, Juha Christensen, during public discussion titled “The Projection for Aceh’s Local Election of 2017 and the Future of Democracy in Local Areas” in Jakarta (10/13).

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