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Jakarta Post

Government delays 2020 regional elections, reallocates budget to fight COVID-19

  • Ghina Ghaliya
    Ghina Ghaliya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, March 31, 2020   /   04:30 pm
Government delays 2020 regional elections, reallocates budget to fight COVID-19 Workers ready ballot boxes on June 25, 2018 for the regional elections in Ambon, Maluku. (Antara/izaac mulyawan)

The government, the House of Representatives and the General Elections Commission (KPU) have agreed to delay the 2020 regional election amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision was made during a hearing on Monday between House Commission II on home affairs, Home Minister Tito Karnavian, KPU chairman Arief Budiman, Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) head Abhan and Election Organization Ethics Council (DKPP) acting chairman Muhammad at the Senayan legislative complex in Central Jakarta.

House Commission II chairman Ahmad Doli Kurnia said that the government had agreed at the meeting to immediately draw up a government regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) to provide the legal basis for the postponement. He added that the rescheduled date of the elections were still being discussed.

"We expect the government to immediately draft the regulation and discuss it with the House on the specifics of the delay [period],” said the Golkar Party politician.

The 2016 Regional Elections Law mandates that the 2020 elections be held in September, with a voting day of Sept. 23, 2020 as stipulated in a 2019 KPU Regulation.

Read also: Several regions postpone early stages of 2020 regional elections as COVID-19 spreads

Doli said that the KPU had suggested three alternative dates for voting day: Dec. 9, 2020, March 17, 2021 and Sept. 29, 2021. The government would pick a date and then consult the House.

The KPU's Pramono Ubaid said that the commission was seriously considering postponing the regional elections until September 2021, seeing how the COVID-19 outbreak was developing in Indonesia.

“We will decide the date later, and the government will issue a Perppu. We can’t revise the Regional Elections Law in circumstances like these,” Pramono said.

In addition to postponing election day, the government, the KPU and the House had also agreed to reallocate the remaining balance of around Rp 9 trillion (US$550 million) from the election budget for COVID-19 prevention and control.

“The [epidemic] should be prioritized over political contestation. The funds can be used by each region to [tackle] the disease," said Pramono.

The Bawaslu's Fritz Edward said that either a Perppu or a Home Minister's regulation should be drafted to regulate the budget reallocation.

“It is important to have a legal basis for [the reallocation]. Of the total Rp 14 trillion allocated for the elections, only Rp 5 trillion has been used, so around Rp 9 trillion remains that can be reallocated for managing the outbreak,” he added.