Jakarta, INDONESIA — As many as 270 regions in Indonesia are set to hold elections in December this year despite calls from activists for postponement due to public health risks in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
An additional budget worth between Rp 2.5 trillion (S$247.2 million) and Rp 5.6 trillion (S$554 million) for the implementation of health protocols, given that the elections will be held amid the pandemic that has infected seven million globally and more than 32,000 in Indonesia alone so far.
“We are ready for the elections in December as long as the health protocol is implemented strictly. One of the reasons why the budget is inflating is for the procurement of self-protection device (APD),” General Election Commission (KPU) Commissioner Ilham Saputra told Tempo on Friday (5 June).
Polls should be held next year due to fluctuating COVID-19 curve: Former GE Commissioner
Mr Hadar Nafis Gumay, a former KPU Commissioner, opined that simultaneous polls should be held next year, given that the stages before the election had been postponed due to the spread of COVID-19.
“We cannot see regional elections merely in terms of what happens on Election Day itself — there are multiple stages before that. Let’s say the elections are taking place on 9 December based on government regulations. Preparations would have started since June,” Mr Hadar told Asumsi.
The budget for the enforcement of health protocol does not only cover APDs, but also hand sanitisers, masks, thermometers and gloves, forcing the KPU to allocate additional funds into purchasing such goods
Central govt unlikely to allocate additional budget for local elections
The Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem) is uncertain that the central government would allocate the extra fund for local elections in the State Expenditure (APBN).
“I am not sure, given the huge numbers of our organizing members and the country’s vast areas and many regions,” Perludem Executive Director Titi Anggraini told Republika on Sunday (7 June).
“Given that most regions are still uncertain about the budget allocation, in my opinion, it would be difficult for the elections’ stages — should it begin on 15 June — will go smoothly based on the COVID-19 mitigation health protocols,” Ms Titi added.
As nobody can predict when the pandemic will end, election officials are facing tough tasks in making sure that the polls will go on as scheduled with the strict implementation of health procedures to mitigate the COVID-19.
As of Monday (8 June), Indonesia recorded 32,033 COVID-19 cases, with 10, 904 cases in recovery and 1,883 deaths, official data showed.