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Jakarta Post

Civil group demands govt postpone regional elections until next year

  • Ivany Atina Arbi
    Ivany Atina Arbi

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, June 12, 2020   /   07:19 pm
Civil group demands govt postpone regional elections until next year The Constitutional Court (JP/Syelanita)

A group has submitted a challenge to the Constitutional Court against a regulation recently issued by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo postponing this year’s simultaneous regional elections until December, and have instead called for the elections to be postponed until the risk of COVID-19 transmission has subsided.

The plaintiff, the Union of Surakarta People for the Elections (PWSPP), filed an online request for a judicial review of Regulation in Lieu of Law (Perppu) No. 2/2020 with the court on Monday.

In the petition, the group challenges Article 201A of the Perppu, which states that regional elections are to be postponed until December 2020.

The group argues that the decision to hold the elections in December will increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

The petition sites prevailing regulations that require authorities and related parties to begin election preparations six months ahead of the poll date, meaning preparations would need to begin this month at a time when the country is continuing to record significant daily increases in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. 

"It's most unfortunate that the elections are going to be held amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The government is supposed to fulfill the public's needs during the pandemic, instead of talking about the elections," the petition stated.

Read also: December regional polls to cost more than planned, pose health risk

The group stated that the budget to hold the elections would be better spent supporting those in need, as the economic impacts of the outbreak had led to many losing their sources of income.

"The plaintiffs want the simultaneous elections to be delayed until the country has been declared free from the COVID-19 pandemic," the petition added.

According to the initial schedule, the elections in 270 regions across the country were meant to take place on Sept. 23. Jokowi signed the Perppu last month to delay the date until December.

The regulation was signed following an agreement between the government, the House of Representatives and the General Elections Commission (KPU) in late March to delay the simultaneous regional elections and shift Rp 9 trillion (US$633 million) from the election budget to fund COVID-19 relief measures.

The petition echoes warnings from health experts over the possibility of an increased risk of COVID-19 transmission during the elections.