The Elections Supervisory Body (Bawaslu) is predicting a tumultuous campaign season after the government and the lawmakers agreed to hold a slew of regional elections, scheduled for 2014, this year.
A Bawaslu member said at least 144 regional elections would be held in 2013, increasing chances for election violations and social conflict if the government, law enforcement and civil society groups did not take action.
“Sulawesi and Papua are two regions where election violations will most likely be rampant, given the history of previous elections and the nature of the locals,” Bawaslu member Daniel Zuchron told lawmakers on House of Representatives Commission II overseeing regional autonomy on Tuesday.
Misuse of regional and central government funds and resources by candidates topped Daniel’s list of likely abuses. “These irregularities will undoubtedly trigger friction between [candidates] and their supporters.”
Bawaslu said that it would forward its recommendations to the National Police, the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and other relevant agencies in March.
The chairman of Komnas HAM, Otto Nur Abdullah, said the commission would be alert for rights violations in regional elections this year.
Otto predicted that the number of biased bylaws enacted by incumbent regional heads to boost their popularity before election day would increase.
The police and the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry identified 900 hot spots across the archipelago where conflicts between miners and local communities might escalate as local elections approached.
The police said that a disproportionate number of permits had been issued on the heels of local polls, purportedly to secure support for incumbents.
Separately, Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi said on Tuesday that the government would issue a regulation in lieu of law (perpu) as the legal basis for its decision to advance the elections if lawmakers failed to approve the regional election bill on time.
“The perpu is our last resort if the House cannot endorse the bill by April,” the minister said on the sidelines of a Cabinet meeting. “I have reported this situation to the President and we are waiting for his response.”
A regulation in-lieu-of-law is required as current laws do not allow for elections to be advanced.
According to the Home Ministry, 137 regional elections were originally scheduled for this year, including 28 scheduled to be held before March.
Fifteen regional elections currently slated to be held between April and December 2014 would rescheduled to 2013, according to Gamawan.
The General Elections Commission (KPU), however, issued different figures, saying that there would be 144 local elections held this year, including 43 advanced from 2014.