A stack of ballot boxes in a polling station in Aceh on April 18, a day after the elections. (Antara Photo/Syifa Yulinnas)

This Year's Elections Are the Most Transparent Ever: Bawaslu


MAY 30, 2019

Jakarta. The Election Supervisory Agency, Bawaslu, said it disagreed with a claim made by Bambang Widjojanto, the head of losing presidential ticket Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno's legal team, that the 2019 presidential and legislative elections last month were the worst in the country's modern history.

When the Prabowo-Sandiaga legal team filed their election dispute to the Constitutional Court on Friday, Bambang said "this is the worst election in Indonesia since the country gained independence."

The former Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) deputy chairman went on to say that the Constitutional Court "will be tested [to see] whether it deserves to be [seen as] a court that will create a legacy and build a [political] culture of sovereignty in the future." 

However, Bawaslu chairman Abhan thinks there has not been a more transparent election than last month's simultaneous presidential and legislative elections.

"According to the [election] organizers, the recent election was the most transparent ever," Abhan said in Jakarta on Wednesday.

According to Abhan, both participants in the election and the public were able to monitor the process every step of the way.

He acknowledges that errors were made throughout the election process, but there are mechanisms in place to correct those errors.

"Yes, there were errors. No one is perfect. But we have tried to fix things by proposing a revote [in several regions]," Abhan said.

Still Better Than New Order Elections

Pramono Ubaid Tanthowi, a commissioner at the General Elections Commission (KPU), also rejected Bambang's statement.

"Saying that the 2019 elections were the worst election in Indonesian history is an ahistorical statement which was not based on data or a clear argument," Pramono said on Monday.

He said Indonesia had experienced worse elections under the repressive New Order regime. 

Back then, the number of political parties was restricted to three, no one could run as a presidential challenger and all prospective candidates had to go through a special investigation (Litsus, or Penelitian Khusus), in which they were vetted for their political views. All prospective candidates had to be declared "clean" of any possible communist influence before they were allowed to run.

"[Under the New Order] election organizers were not independent because they were made part of the Home Affairs Ministry, while the election supervisors were under the Attorney General's Office. Election observers were not allowed and free seats at the DPR [House of Representatives] were reserved for [unelected] police and military personnel," he said.

Pramono said elections in the Reformasi (Reform) era are still far better than elections during the New Order.

"For me, no matter how many problems we have in post-Reformasi elections, including the 2019 election, they are definitely still far better than elections during the New Order," he said.