Voters queue to wash their hand before casting their vote at a polling station near a Mount Merapi eruption refugee center in Boyolali, Central Java on Wednesday (Antara Photo/Aloysius Jarot Nugroho)

78m People Brave Covid-19 Pandemic to Cast Vote in Person in The 2020 Regional Elections


DECEMBER 09, 2020

Jakarta. Around 78 million voters in nine provinces, 37 cities, and 224 districts across Indonesia are expected to cast their votes to elect governors, majors, and district heads on Wednesday, braving the risk of being infected by the novel coronavirus the Covid-19 pandemic is still raging in the country. 

In May, the government decided to delay the regional elections by three months to December, hoping that the pandemic would have been under control by this time. In reality, Indonesia just saw its worst month in the pandemic, with the number of active cases jumped by more than 58,400 cases in November.   


There have been an additional 12,800 active cases so far this month, bringing the total to the north of 85,300. 

The Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI) raised a warning about Indonesia's health system collapse as hospitals and laboratories ran full capacity with exhausted health workers. Indonesia has exactly 18,000 deaths due to Covid-19 as of Tuesday, 

The government, the House of Representatives, and the General Election Commission (KPU) all agreed that a political vacuum created by more delays in the elections would cost more than the risk of having more people contracted with the novel coronavirus. 

The voters cast their votes in person at the election booths between 07:00 a.m and 01:00 p.m. Covid-19 patients can use their voting rights above 12.00 a.m. Ballot officers would visit them at hospitals of isolation homes. 

KPU said it had committed to implementing strict health protocols at the voting booths; any voters who did not comply with the health protocols would be turned away from the pooling station. Each station would only serve 500 voters, not 800 like it used to in the previous elections. 

The commission said about 77.5 percent of 100.3 million people listed in the 2020 Regional Elections Permanent Voters List (DPT) to cast their votes today. 

In normal conditions, that would be a relatively high turnout rate. Still, amid a pandemic, the elections would stand to a different set of success measures, Wiku Adisasmito, the Covid-19 Handling Task Force spokesman, said. 

"These elections can only be said to be successful if the implementation upholds the discipline of health protocols. So that there is no transmission of the new Covid-19 cases,"  Wiku said. 

Clash of Dynasties

The 2020 regional elections were also marked with contests between several relatives of the current political leaders or regional heads. 

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's eldest son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka run for the mayoral post in Solo, the city where his dad started his political career. Jokowi's son-in-law, Bobby Nasution, on the other hand, run for mayor in Medan, North Sumatra. 

Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto's nephew, Rahayu Saraswati Djojohadikusumo, and Vice President Ma'ruf Amin's daughter, Siti Nur Azizah, competed in the South Tangerang regional election in Banten. They run against Pilar Saga Ichsan, the nephew of Ratu Atut Chosiyah, a former Banten governor serving a seven-year jail sentence for corruption. 

In Banyuwangi, East Java, Ipuk Fiestiandani the wife of the current district head Azwar Anas is running in the election.  Hanindhito Himawan Pramono, the son of Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung  run in Kediri, East Java. 

M. Qodari, the executive director at pollster and political consultancy firm Indo Barometer, said the majority of Indonesian voters accepted the member of a political dynasty running in the regional elections this year

According to Indobaremeter's survey published on Monday, about one in four voters thought a political dynasty member has the same right as other Indonesian to compete in elections. Other 8.9 percent thought that the dynasty member would bring change, smart (8.6 percent), or native to the region (8.3 percent). 

"In Solo, for example, of the 98.9 percent who knew that Gibran as Jokowi's was running as a candidate for mayor, 87.6 percent said they could accept his candidacy and only 4.8 percent opposed it," Qodari said.