February 23, 2024

West Sumatra and Regional Election

Provincial Election Commission (KPU Provinsi) of West Sumatra held a Focus Group Discussion (FGD) with KPU Selingkup West Sumatra, academics, political parties, community leaders and students on the evaluation of the Dec 9 2015 simultaneous regional elections (23-2 /2).

West Sumatra regional election was followed by a gubernatorial election and 13 regent/mayor elections. Evaluation is important to the implementation of simultaneous elections on the first half- second half is expected to be held later in 2017 with better implementation. Many important notes can be used as   guidelines for future reference so that democratic system can be established.

Of the number of evaluations of 2015 election, I take some important notes for better improvement in the future. First, the setting in Article 42 (4) and (5) of the Electoral Laws on governors, regents and mayors which is also synchronous with General Election Commission Regulation (PKPU) No. 12/2015. Basically, Laws and PKPU regulate about head candidates promoted by political parties that have to be in line with the support from the same Regional Executive Board (DPW) and Central Executive Board (DPP). If there is a difference between regional and central candidate, then the candidacy is considered failed.

The fact that happened in West Sumatra can be seen from the dynamics of Functional Group Party (Golkar) and the United Development Party (PPP) were indeed in a state of conflict (read: the dualism of leadership). This issue affected the party decision to to take their cadre as the party candidate. Thing to be noted is that there was a difference of candidates proposed by Golkar and PPP parties regarding the signature approval from the central committee and regional committee to nominate the candidate. As a result, there was administrative issues of these party in carrying prospective head region.

This issue needs special attention and has to be ensured in the future with Simultaneous Regional Election Laws (UU Pilkada)  revision or General Election Commission Regulation (PKPU). This happened because of hurried and imperfect election law preparation with dispute over election implementation through parliament or direct election. This attracted my attention as political parties in conflict have trouble getting a clear bargaining position against this law. Moreover, the regional head candidate undoubtedly ignore the regional party executive board as the main gateway to lobby the party-using central committee network is often used to obtain approval for the candidate to be the head region. The problem occurred as there was a conflict between regional and central executive boards about the candidate as there was diferent view between regional and central party officials.

Logically, money undoubtedly played role here-DPW considered the candidate had promising electability with electoral interest to the candidate. It can only be done through surveys, discussions, and others. This issue caused the party lost its way on the submission of candidates regarding this rule. As an example, we could see that Golkar party pretended to be peaceful near regional election to get the position of head region. At the end, Golkar party was overwhelmed to show its power as the ruling party in regional election.

It*s not about Golkar inability to manage conflict, but about regulation position that regulates a candidate which is not synchronous between regional and center, so that political dealings as a “tribute money” towards the establishment of regional head candidate undoubtedly occur as a step to be used without the needs of lobbying.

Second, the incumbent district head is indeed the most fortunate in every election-especially when they had a program that could bolster their image. December 9, 2015 election is a momentum for dominant incumbent to use their government programs to portray themselves personally. Consequently, it was like killing two birds with one stone as there were many voting nests to be harvested.

We could easily see this on the use of incumbent billboards that use the government programs for personal gain. For example, claiming that all existing activities in an area as the result of the performance of their services as the incumbent district head. This is an issue that should be highlighted-because fair election should be based on ideas to better its regions, not  from images wrapped with programs merely as to gain votes during elections.

Similarly, Article 71 of the Law on Election of governors, regents and mayors about the prohibition of official replacement six months before their term ends. That means the incumbent district head has the opportunity to do transaction with government and civilian officials. Incumbent who understands this structure will capitalize this to do transaction on promises, positions or even threats.

Third, December 9, 2015 election is still an issue for electoral namely voters who still consider that elections must be festive not only a ceremonial; enter the polling station, select, and go home. A party of five minutes in the voting booth without keyboard/music entertainment, banners, and others made last simultaneous election did not get attention as a result of low-voter participation.

Hence, to attract the attention of voters, it is not only KPU duties, but also the organizers- political parties, civil society and others. They should take an important role to provide education and political socialization to vote on the election. Hopefully the second half of 2017 simultaneous election will be better.


A Columnist and An Alumnus of Political Science of the University of Andalas

(translated by SL)