2018 regional elections: The basics

Devina Heriyanto | The Jakarta Post | Jakarta

Jakarta   /  Wed, June 27, 2018  /  07:57 am

Officers prepare ballots at General Elections Commission's (KPU) warehouse in Bogor regency on June 22. (Antara/Yulius Satria Wijaya)

With 171 elections simultaneously taking place on June 27, the 2018 regional elections are surely something to keep an eye on. More than half the country’s population with 152,066,685 registered voters will choose the new executive heads for 17 provinces, 115 regencies and 39 cities. The General Elections Commission (KPU) has set a target of 77.5 percent voter turnout.

Here are some things you should know about the elections:

What does pilkada serentak (simultaneous regional elections) mean?

Simultaneous regional elections refers to the fact that all of the elections will take place on one day, despite differences regarding the end of each region’s office term. The 2018 regional elections on June 27 will decide the leaders of regions with office terms ending in 2018 and 2019.

Among 171 regions, 119 have their leader’s office term ended in 2018 and 52 in 2019. Some of the regional leaders even had their term end in January this year. Two regents from Mimika and Southwest Sumba have office terms that should end on Sept. 6 and 8 2019, respectively. Their office terms will be cut short.

Regions whose leaders’ office terms ended before the election are being led by an acting regional leader. For instance, after West Kalimantan's former governor Cornelis MH ended his term on Jan. 14, Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo then appointed Doddy Riyadmadji as acting governor to fill the seat.

The previous simultaneous elections were in 2015 with 269 regions and in 2017 with 101 regions.

Who will get elected?

Regional heads at varying levels, from mayor, regents and governor. After the 2004 law on regional elections, Indonesians get to directly elect their own regional leaders. The first simultaneous regional elections were in 2005. Previously, the leaders were elected by members of their respective Regional Legislative Council (DPRD).

In 2014, a law was passed to scrape direct regional elections and to give the power back to the DPRD. In response to the public outcry, then-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) issued a regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) to resurrect direct local elections. Under President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, the Perppu was strengthened as a law in 2015.

Why does the election matter?

The direct regional election is considered one highlight of democracy in Indonesia. The simultaneous nature of the election is argued as a means for efficiency. There is also a view that holding local elections simultaneously can prevent candidates who fail at one level or region from running again in another region — as is often the case in Indonesia.

Since the 2018 regional election is only months away from the 2019 legislative election and presidential election, this is a moment for political parties to garner their masses and prepare for 2019.

What are the key regions in this election?

One of the most talked-about regions in the upcoming race is West Java, home to approximately 46.71 million people, the most populous province in Indonesia. West Java was also where Jokowi struggled during the 2014 presidential election and where he lost to Prabowo, who garnered 59.78 percent of the vote.

There are four pairs running in West Java:

The second-biggest province is East Java, which is also the base of Islamic organization Nahdatul Ulama (NU).

There are two pairs in the election:

Both Khofifah and Gus Ipul are notable figures in NU. Puti Guntur Soekarnoputri is the granddaughter of Indonesia’s founding father and first president Sukarno and the niece of PDI-P matriarch Megawati Soekarnoputri.

Central Java is also under many watchlists, with incumbent Ganjar Pranowo running for another term against former energy and mineral resources minister Sudirman Said. Ganjar’s name has been mentioned in the e-ID graft case, but he still maintains the lead due to his popularity and the PDI-P’s strong base in Central Java.

There are two pairs in the Central Java race:

Outside Java, two contested regions are North Sumatra and South Sulawesi.

North Sumatra is the fourth most populous province in the country and the most populous outside Java. Former Jakarta vice governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat was appointed by his party, the PDI-P, to run in North Sumatra after losing in the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election as vice governor to Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama.

There are two pairs in the election:

South Sulawesi is the most populous province in eastern Indonesia. The province is among other regions considered prone to social conflicts nearing the election, as there have been several conflicts following past regional elections. One of the candidates, Ichsan Yasin Limpo, is the brother of previous South Sulawesi governor Syahrul Yasin Limpo and currently the regent of Gowa, South Sulawesi. The Limpo family reigns in Gowa.

There are four pair running in the province: