The General Secretary of the Elections Commission of Indonesia (KPU), Arif Rahman Hakim, tells his experience in managing elections in Indonesia. According to Arif, managing elections in Indonesia is not as easy as it seems. Here is our interview with Arif.
What have you learned from your experience in managing elections in Indonesia?
From management perspective, managing elections in Indonesia is not as easy as it seems. However, it can become much easier if all the requirements for elections management had been fulfilled.
What are those requirements?
There are four requirements. First, the availability of quality human resources. Second, proper budget. Third, the availability of proper infrastuctures and facilities. And lastly, the regulations have to be comprehensive. If these requirements are fulfilled, it would be easy for us to manage our elections.
Have those requirements fulfilled yet?
Currently, our elections management quality is still subpar. In regards with human resources problem, we have calculated that we will need at least 17 staffs at regency/municipality level, 35 staffs at provincial level, and 600 staffs at national level. The current total staffs we have is still below those numbers.
What about the elections budget? Is our current budget sufficient for elections management?
During the non-election period, we are provided with 1.7 trillion rupiah, which is only 60 percent of what we actually need. As the consequence, we can only finance the operational cost without any funds left for needed development.
However, during election period, we receive a pretty big sum of money. For example, for the upcoming 2018 local elections, the government provided us with 10.8 trillion rupiah of election budget. Most of the funds will be spent for ad hoc election committees. There are around five million people working for ad hoc committee.
Do those funds always used up completely?
We are trying to use all of the funds that have been allocated by the government. However, in managing and organizing elections, there are many uncertainties. For example, we can never know how many candidates will be participating in the election. Therefore, we need to allocate the budget carefully.
If there is any leftover of funds, we will definitely return it to the government. The whole budgeting process in KPU will be audited by the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK).
What about the budget for logistics?
The allocated budget for logistics is actually very small. Indeed, for the 2019 National Elections, the allocated budget is increased. This is because the new Elections Law requires KPU to use transparent ballot boxes during the voting process. There will be five million ballot boxes we need to prepare, with a budget of 600 billion rupiah.
What are the other budget allocation?
The budget will be allocated for campaigning, voters education, and updating the voters data and voters roll.
Lastly, have all the needed infrastructures and facilities been available?
Not yet. If you come to KPU at regency/municipality level, you will see that 63 percent of the office for KPU at regency/municipality level are still using office building owned by respective local administrative. We cannot afford our own office just yet.
What is your hope for the future of Indonesia’s elections?
I hope all of the election stakeholders in Indonesia will support KPU in managing the elections, especially in our effort acquiring three of the four election management requirements, that are human resources, budget, and infrastuctures.