The Jakarta Post
Home minister Tito Karnavian is upbeat that the campaign trails for the upcoming simultaneous regional elections in December will be free from COVID-19 transmissions despite reports of candidates violating health protocols and calls by the public to postpone the event.
"I am very optimistic that the campaigns will run smoothly, safely and free from COVID-19," Tito said on Friday as reported by kompas.com.
He added that the campaigns would even help the handling of COVID-19 across the country as the General Elections Commission (KPU) had allowed candidates to use personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand sanitizer as campaign props.
The commission had also set COVID-19 mitigation as the main theme for the candidates' public debates.
"Imagine if each of the 723 candidates hands out 100,000 PPEs to the public — there would be more than 70 million PPEs distributed. I'm sure that could lower COVID-19 transmission as long as the public uses [the PPEs]," Tito said.
The KPU recently revised a regulation (PKPU) on holding the regional elections during the COVID-19 pandemic that officially prohibited campaign events that would attract crowds during amid mounting concerns over heightened transmission across the country.
Read also: Postpone regional elections: LIPI, Muslim groups urge government
Many political parties have told their candidates to prioritize virtual campaigning and to be disciplined in applying COVID-19 health protocols.
Despite reports of candidates violating health protocols, the first campaign week for the upcoming elections ran smoothly, Tito claimed.
He said the number of health protocol violations were not as many as in early September when more than 100 candidates brought large entourages with them upon registering for the elections.
"We just need to remain consistent [in following health protocols] until the end of the elections," he added.
There have been mounting calls from organizations and activists for the government to postpone the regional elections, slated to take place on Dec. 9 in 270 regions across the archipelago, and prioritize public health following a persistent spike of coronavirus transmissions. (nal)