After losing in the July 9 presidential elections, as well as in subsequent attempts to challenge its results, Prabowo Subianto and his allies have taken the battle to the legislature. This time, it’s not the presidency at stake, but the right of Indonesians to directly elect their governors, mayors and district heads. A committee in the outgoing House of Representatives (DPR) – which will end its term on September 30 – is currently deliberating a Regional Elections Bill (RUU Pilkada) that seeks to have these regional executive leaders be chosen by the local legislature (DPRD). This was 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. The controversial bill’s proponents tout the budget savings that could be made if Indonesia does away with the costly direct elections, which are held separately by each province. They also say indirect elections through the DPRD reduces the likelihood of election-related violence and “money politics”. Those against it – more than 80% of Indonesians according to a recent survey by the Indonesian Survey Circle – decry the threat to democracy and point out it’s unlikely “money politics” would actually decline. But arguments on the merits of either system aside, the issue here, really, is politics.
“This is a political game,” R. Siti Zuhro, a political analyst at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), explains. “This competition is a continuation of the presidential election.”
Pushing for the bill on the red and white corner of the legislature are Prabowo and the 6 political parties that supported his failed bid for the presidency. The Red and White Coalition consists of Gerindra (Prabowo’s party), the Suharto-era political vehicle Golkar (which is still led by tycoon Aburizal Bakrie), losing vice presidential candidate Hatta Rajasa’s National Mandate Party (PAN), and the graft-tainted ruling Democratic Party and Islamic parties United Development Party (PPP) and Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).
On the minority side stands President-elect Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), and the two smaller parties that supported him during the election, Hanura and National Awakening Party (PKB).
Full Article: Prabowo revenge? New bill puts voting rights at risk.