Indonesian political parties seize control of regional administrations

Indonesian political parties seize control of regional administrations

JAKARTA - Political parties appeared to have secured a lock on regional administrations following the passage of the regional elections (Pilkada) law, which will vest Regional Legislative Councils (DPRDs) with the power to appoint local leaders.

In the early hours of Friday morning the House of Representatives passed the law by a vote of 226 to 135 to reinstate the mechanism that had been used during former president Soeharto's New Order era.

Under the revived election mechanism political parties, through their representatives in the DPRDs, now have the mandate to form election committees (Panlih) that will initially select potential candidates.

The committees will later appoint an independent panel, comprising three academicians and two public figures, that will hold a public review, a mechanism that could be subject to control by the DPRD.

Those who have passed the panel's public review will then be eligible for "election" at the DPRD.

The law, which is slated to become effective in October 2015, also allows independent gubernatorial candidates to enter a race only if they are endorsed by at least 3 per cent of the total population in an electoral area with a population of more than 12 million, 4 per cent in an area with a population between 6 and 12 million, 5 per cent of a population between 2 and 6 million and 6.5 per cent in an area with a population less than 2 million.

Another article of the law states that elections will be held every five years concurrently across the country, while another stipulates that an election dispute must now be brought to local courts or the Supreme Court, automatically stripping the authority from the Constitutional Court, which is currently mandated to settle local-election disputes.

Lawmaker Hakam Naja, who chairs House Commission II overseeing regional administrations, argued that the new law would not be a stumbling block to public aspirations, saying that it had been drawn up in the best interests of the people, rather than to fulfil the ambitions of political parties.

"With passage of two laws, political parties now have effective control of regions SBY expresses disappointment at vote, activists vow to challenge law at Constitutional Court "Public aspirations will now be channeled through the DPRDs. Under this law, we can build a better democratic culture by urging the public to be more serious in engaging in legislative elections," he said.

Andi Asrun, a lawyer who represented the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) in a judicial review related to House-leadership voting mechanisms, said on Friday that he would challenge the Pilkada law at the Constitutional Court, arguing the new election mechanism denied the people their right to vote.

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