While most Indonesians were sleeping in the early hours of Friday, September 26, their elected representatives dismantled a cornerstone of the country’s democracy. After a politicized plenary debate that lasted more than 10 hours, the House of Representatives voted 226-135 to pass the controversial Regional Elections Bill (RUU Pilkada). Indonesians will now no longer be able to directly vote for their governors, mayors and district heads – a stunning reversal for one of the most widely praised emerging democracies in the world. This comes just two months after Indonesia voted as president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, a furniture businessman who would not have become Solo mayor or Jakarta governor if not for direct local elections.
The country will go back to having local legislatures (DPRD) choose the regional executive leaders – the way it used to be, until post-Suharto era reforms led to Indonesians being able to directly vote for them for the first time in 2005.
Thursday’s plenary was expected to be a close vote, with 246 of the lawmakers in attendance belonging to political parties that support the bill, and 250 from those rejecting it.
The parties that stated their opposition to the bill crucially involved the ruling Democratic Party, which controls the largect bloc with 148 lawmakers. The party was initially thought to be voting for the bill – alongside the Red and White Coalition led by losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto’s Gerindra Party.
Full Article: How Indonesians lost their direct local voting rights.