A polling station officer arranges ballot boxes during the 2019 double elections in West Aceh, Aceh. (Antara Photo/Syifa Yulinnas)

Democracy at Stake: Demands Surface to Postpone Regional Election Until 2021


JUNE 11, 2020

Jakarta. Indonesia should postpone the scheduled 2020 regional election in some of its provinces, districts and municipalities until next year to ensure the integrity of the process, the Association for Election and Democracy, or Perludem, has said. 

The government's regulation in lieu of law on the governor, district head and mayoral elections, issued in May, sticks to the original schedule for the 2020 regional election even though the Covid-19 pandemic had severely disrupted the preparations by the General Election Commission (KPU). 


Some preliminary stages of the election will resume on Monday while voters are set to go to the polls on Dec. 9. 

"Holding the election in December can cause some problems, including more cases of money politics. People whose economy has been affected by the pandemic are especially vulnerable to this. There's also the risk of politicizing the government's pandemic mitigation efforts," Perludem's executive director, Tuti Anggraeni, said on Thursday in an online discussion.

The government estimated 2.9 million workers might lose their jobs during the pandemic. The poverty rate is expected to increase from 27.5 million people last year, or 9.2 percent of Indonesia's population, to 10-12 percent this year.

Voters are also becoming more disillusioned about the state of Indonesian democracy, with a recent survey finding Indonesians' satisfaction in the country's democratic system plunging to its lowest level in 16 years amid the pandemic. 

A survey of 1,200 respondents across Indonesia in May by Jakarta-based pollster Indikator Politik Indonesia found less than half of them were satisfied with the state of democracy in Indonesia.

The same pollster showed 76 percent of people expressing satisfaction with the system back in February. 

Against this background, Perludem doubts the KPU would have enough time to prepare for the election properly. 

"We recommend holding the election in June 2021. The pandemic might still exist by then but technically and budget-wise the KPU will be more prepared. The KPU will have more time to prepare the polling officers for a post-pandemic situation," Tuti said.  

Tuti said the KPU currently still does not have a health protocol for the election even though the preliminary stages are set to resume next week.

The budget for the election is still uncertain, which has also undermined its infrastructure development and sharing of its information, Titi said.

"I think it will be too risky for democracy in this country if the election is still held in December. The Indonesian public also seems to have doubts that the election can continue this year due to the current situation," she said.