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Polls may be the ‘most
troubled’ ever

This year’s general elections may be the most troubled yet, not only because of a flurry of last-minute changes in regulations but also because of the shifting of responsibility from the government to the General Elections Commission (KPU), says a researcher.

“The government’s apparent unwillingness to provide clear guidance to the KPU has shifted the burden of responsibility to unelected officials … and has created potential for a great deal of post-election disputation and uncertainty,” Stephen Sherlock, a consultant at the Australia-based Centre for Democratic Institutions (CDI), said Monday at a meeting here.

To overcome various problems such as logistics and the issue of legislative seats for women, the KPU earlier requested government regulations-in-lieu-of-law, but the government refused to issue them.

Regarding the controversial voter list fraud in East Java that has raised fears of similar cases elsewhere, KPU chairman Abdul Hafiz Anshary  said lower-level commission officials have all been ordered to fix the voter lists to ensure the polls would go ahead on April 9.

Local elections commissions (KPUD) officials and election witnesses will all gain access to the voter lists, he said at the workshop in Nusa Dua, hosted by the Denpasar-based Institute for Peace and Democracy.

Sherlock noted how last-minute regulations and rulings by the Constitutional Court regarding
the elections would also have “a major impact on the conduct of politics”.

The court ruled that seats would go to candidates who won the most votes, and while that has been greeted in some quarters as an incentive for candidates to get closer to their constituents, women’s activists were in an uproar over what they claimed was effectively the death knell in the struggle to get more women into parliament.

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