The political reform movement that began in 1998 has significantly transformed the democratic atmosphere in Indonesia through amendments to the 1945 Constitution. One of the fundamental changes relates to the electoral mechanism for regional leaders.
We used to have indirect elections where governors, mayors and regents were chosen by members of local legislative councils. A year after the enactment of the 2004 Law on Regional Administration, regional leaders were elected directly through a “one man, one vote” mechanism.
Six years after the law came into effect, however, many Indonesians are questioning whether direct election is still appropriate given the aims of democracy, since this system can also create economic, social and political burdens. Responding to this issue, the government recently proposed a bill on local elections, which intends to reinstate the old indirect election system. This issue has sparked debate not only among politicians, but also between government officials and academics.
Regarding the present electoral mechanism, the government has insisted that neither the candidates nor voters are politically ready to implement the direct elections mechanism. They found there have been many cases of election fraud in direct elections, which has affected the public’s view of democracy.
However, there is little empirical data to support such accusations. It is true that there has been election fraud, but none of 14 allegations of fraud related to gubernatorial elections in six provinces in 2010 were granted by the Constitutional Court. In other words, no significant electoral fraud characterized as structured, systematic and massive violations has occurred in any of the gubernatorial elections so far.
Full Article: Defending direct elections | The Jakarta Post.