Amendments may disrupt poll preparations

Amendments may disrupt poll preparations
Indonesia's House of Representatives at the parliament buidling in Jakarta.

Instead of pushing the Golkar Party and the United Development Party (PPP) to reconcile their internal differences so they can contest the upcoming local elections, the House of Representatives has insisted on revising existing laws, a demand that will likely postpone the elections until next year.

The House's leadership aims to consult President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in the coming days, having faced early opposition from the Home Ministry over concerns that amending Law No. 8/2015 on local elections and Law No. 2/2011 on political parties, as proposed by the legislative institution, might lead to confusion and the disruption of the process ahead of the election, slated for Dec. 9 this year.

Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo has repeatedly turned down demands to amend both laws on the basis that it would disrupt the whole election process. The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician reiterated his stance on Monday, posing his concerns that lawmakers' demands might eventually bring about more changes to existing laws.

"We cannot make a decision today because we, together with our partner the KPU [General Elections Commission], are still thoroughly examining any potential impacts that will result from the amendments," Tjahjo told the press after a closed-door meeting with House's leaders.

With House Speaker Setya Novanto and Deputy Speaker Fadli Zon standing alongside him, Tjahjo emphasised the need for caution in making the decision, to avoid any possible threats that might interrupt the schedule.

Article 201 of Law No. 8/2015 on local elections mandates that elections must take place in December 2015 to elect new leaders in the regions, where the leaders will end their terms between this year and June next year.

To participate in the elections, points 4, 5 and 6 of Article 42 require political parties or a coalition of political parties to submit official documents on respective nominees that are signed by party leaders as well as secretary-generals.

Such stipulations have caused confusion among Golkar and the PPP because of ongoing internal battles between factions within these parties.

If maintained, the law might shut the door for both parties to contest an upcoming 269 elections to take place simultaneously throughout the archipelago.

As part of the solution to allow Golkar and the PPP to join the election, the KPU recently adopted two recommendations by House Commission II overseeing domestic governance - the provision of an inkracht, or a final and binding court ruling regarding leadership; or reconciliation and thus the submission of an official peace agreement between the divided factions - in its regulation on the local elections.

The majority of political factions within Commission II, however, found the two points would still hamper Golkar and the PPP in contesting the race, as both parties, which were still going through the legal process over the leadership battle, had apparently faced difficulties in achieving a peaceful solution to end months of infighting.

The House has urged the KPU to include another stipulation that will allow both divided parties to submit their latest court rulings on their leadership battles, to endorse the candidates ahead of the registration date on July 26-28 - a demand that can only be legally taken following the amendment of existing laws on the matter.

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