At least two candidates who are expected to run in the upcoming simultaneous regional elections in Central Java have expressed thoughts about stepping back from the race if the voting day remains set at Dec. 9, arguing that the COVID-19 pandemic may not be over by then.
Surakarta mayoral candidate Achmad Purnomo and incumbent Wonogiri Regent Joko "Jekek" Sutopo, both of whom are politicians of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), separately announced that they would soon submit letters of withdrawal for their candidacy to the party's Central Java chairman if there was no change to the election date.
"I choose to focus on handling COVID-19 rather than conducting a political campaign during the pandemic," said Purnomo, who is currently the deputy mayor of Surakarta city.
"I am not sure the pandemic will end before December. If the regional election is going to be held on Dec. 9, I better withdraw my candidacy.”
Purnomo verbally conveyed his intention to the PDI-P Surakarta chapter's executive board chairman and the city mayor, FX Hadi "Rudy" Rudyatmo, who expressed full support of the move.
"We'll soon send a letter to the Central Java PDI-P [chairman] regarding this matter," Rudy said.
Jekek said the government should maintain its focus on addressing the pandemic in the meantime. "There're still a lot to do regarding the outbreak. We can postpone the election, but not the COVID-19 response.”
The government and the House of Representatives previously agreed to reschedule the voting day for this year's simultaneous regional elections to Dec. 9 from September due to the health crisis.
The decision was made after a hearing conducted on April 14 involving the House Commission II overseeing home affairs, Home Minister Tito Karnavian, the General Elections Commission (KPU), the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) and the Election Organization Ethics Council (DKPP).
The government said it would soon draft a regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) on the postponement of the voting day, which is scheduled to be held simultaneously in the country's 270 regions.
The KPU previously suggested three alternative dates for the voting day, namely Dec. 9, 2020, March 17, 2021, and Sept. 29, 2021.