The Jakarta Post
The Central Java Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu Central Java) said on Saturday that Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo and 34 other regional heads in the province had broken the law by participating in an event in support of incumbent President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.
The election supervisor said the regional leaders had violated Law No. 23/2014 on regional administration by taking a side in the presidential election, which will be held in April.
“The regional leaders expressed their political preference, which is actually their right. But because of their official positions, they are not supposed to collectively express their preference in public,” said Bawaslu Central Java enforcement division coordinator Sri Wahyu Ananingsih in Semarang, as quoted by Antara.
She elaborated that the agency’s conclusion was based on its investigation and the testimonies of people at the event, which was held on Jan. 26 at a hotel in Surakarta. The event was also registered with the local police as a campaign event.
The leaders, she said, had committed “ethical” violations by expressing their support for the incumbent.
Sri said by endorsing a presidential candidate the regional leaders had failed to be “fair and just”, which they had pledged to be during their inauguration.
Public endorsements of presidential tickets have become common over the past few months, as the country prepares for the legislative and presidential elections in April.
Last week, Riau Governor Syamsuar, who is backed by the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), two parties backing Prabowo Subianto in the presidential election, declared support for Jokowi’s reelection bid during his inauguration at the State Palace in Jakarta.
Recently, the campaign team of candidate pair Jokowi-Ma’ruf Amin claimed a total of 30 governors and 359 mayors and regents across the country had declared support for the pair.
Among the regional leaders are 10 mayors and regents from West Sumatra as well as West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil. West Sumatra and West Java are both conservative provinces widely known as strongholds of the Prabowo camp. Support for Jokowi has also come from Papua Governor Lukas Enembe, a Democratic Party politician. The party is in the opposition camp endorsing Prabowo.
So far, only four governors have declared support for the Prabowo-Sandiaga Uno candidate pair, namely Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, Bangka Belitung’s Erzaldi Rosman Djohan, East Kalimantan’s Isran Noor and Central Sulawesi Governor Longki Djanggola.
Several leaders have been reported to the local Bawaslu in their respective regions, but the case in Central Java is the first in which leaders have been declared at fault.
Bawaslu, however, does not have the authority to enforce the Regional Administration Law. Bawaslu is tasked with enforcing Law No. 7/2017 on elections, which prohibits civil servants, subdistrict heads and Indonesian Police and Indonesian Military (TNI) officers from engaging in political activities, including running for election or campaigning. As democratically elected leaders, regional leaders are not under the purview of the Election Law.
Suhartono, the head of Sampangagung village in Mojokerto, East Java, was sentenced to two months in jail and fined Rp 6 million (US$426.8) for organizing an event in support of Sandiaga’s visit in December.
Following this, Prabowo’s campaign team reported 15 district heads in Makassar, South Sulawesi, for allegedly campaigning for Jokowi in a video.
Election watchdog Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem) executive director Titi Anggraini told The Jakarta Post that Bawaslu only suggested that Ganjar violated the Regional Administration Law, but that the agency did not have the authority no rule whether Ganjar was guilty or not.
“When Bawaslu finds an indication of a violation of laws other than the Election Law, the agency only has the authority to hand the case to the related institution. Bawaslu may suspect that Ganjar violated the Regional Administration Law, but the agency can only hand it to the Home Ministry to rule on,” Titi said.
“It is impossible the Home Ministry would rule that Ganjar is innocent,” Titi said.
Separately, Ganjar denied that he and the other leaders from Central Java had violated the law by holding the event in Surakarta.
“I invited them on my behalf. We did not use any state facilities. If we are considered to have violated the Regional Administration Law, I question Bawaslu’s authority [to implement the law]. Only the Home Ministry is authorized to decide whether ethical violations have taken place,” he said on Sunday.
In 2014, Jokowi won 66.6 percent of the vote in Central Java. This year, the province has become a battleground, as Prabowo’s seeks to overtake the incumbent.
Prabowo has even moved his campaign headquarters to Surakarta, Jokowi’s hometown and the city where he started his political career as mayor.