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Anticipating conflicts during direct regional elections


I found this article is interesting and linked with Pilkada.  I hopefully to find this inspiring us all. Happy reading. 🙂

Anticipating conflicts during direct regional elections
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Tue, 12/28/2004 8:51 AM | Opinion

Didik Supriyanto, Jakarta

Entering 2005, the nation will again be facing a new political phase with the direct elections of regional heads (pilkada) as a follow-up to the coming into force of Law No.32/2004 on regional administrations in October 2004.

This is indeed a very difficult choice. On the one hand, Law No.32/2004 — particularly (pilkada) provisions — obviously contains various weaknesses so that as a legal basis for the elections it is very vulnerable. On the other hand, direct regional elections have become an inevitable political demand, not only to respect local people’s rights but also to reduce corruption and the manipulation of aspirations so far practiced.

Under such dilemmatic conditions, the momentum of success in carrying out the most complicated legislative election and the first direct presidential election in Indonesia recently should serve as motivation to ensure the orderly and peaceful implementation of pilkada.

All relevant circles should now anticipate the worst prospects that could arise from the 2005 pilkada, in view of the first experience in the direct elections of regional heads and the limitations inherent in the new law. Attention should be paid to, among other things, the possibility of violence-laden conflicts between supporters — in notoriously clash-prone regions and in hitherto normal areas.

First, unlike presidential elections, pilkada involve all the resources and popular emotions of a region because the only seat packed with the greatest regional power and most concrete influence on regional people is being fought for. The emotional bonds between candidates and supporters are so strong that political rationality could be lost. Unsurprisingly, local political tensions and even clashes have previously marked indirect elections in regional council buildings. What happens when pilkada take place outdoors?

Second, Law No.32/2004 rules out the participation of independent candidates. In fact, every region always has non-partisans with broad bases of followers so that unless they are accommodated by political parties for nomination, tendencies for turmoil will be high. There is the likelihood of political parties fielding independent candidates, but the pragmatism of local elite parties prior to regional elections, characterized by money politics and facilities as rewards, renders the chances of independent nominees as slimmer.

Third, parties are each obsessed with becoming a single power so that in nominating their pairs of candidates they do not consider the prevailing political polarization. For instance, the pairs chosen only come from one party, one ethnic group and or one religion, making other communities feel that their existence is threatened. Eventually, these communities, fearing the imminent monolithic regime, may be encouraged to resort to force in order to maintain their political presence. Or conversely, with their dominant position, the pair emerging from the same entity can act arbitrarily.

Fourth, rivalry between “”regional sons”” and “”settlers”” will strengthen as parties remain completely insensitive to this vulnerable issue. A combination of figures originating in both generations is indeed ideal. However, it is in no way simple to convince dominant political parties in regions to prioritize couples that are acceptable to all communities.

Fifth, with the many drawbacks of Law No.32/2004, its stipulations are not only confusing to political parties and their candidates but they also make it difficult for election law enforcers to take stern action. If they fail to immediately penalize violators of pilkada rules, this situation will invite other infringements that may entail chaos and violence.

Ways and means to anticipate and quell the rise of threats include: First, Law No.32/2004, with special reference to pilkada provisions and all their shortcomings, should be promptly communicated to regions, notably those planning to hold direct elections in 2005. The law’s weaknesses should be specified to enable regional people to face any disappointing prospects. Up to the present, several local people have been rallying support without being aware that their candidacy will have to be processed through political parties.

Second, the government regulation on pilkada to implement Law No.32/2004 should in the best possible way offset these limitations. But there should also be an explanation to make regional citizens aware that the government regulation will also contain weak points as it elucidates a law with many deficient parts. In this manner, those interested in pilkada can make preparations for any undesirable development.

Third, pilkada organizational units have to be speedily prepared. Regional General Election Commissions (KPUD) have been set up, but they are not yet experienced in holding direct elections of regional heads, while also authorized to make pilkada technical rules. Besides, regional councils should also form supervisory committees because they will execute the election control function and at the same time anticipate potential conflicts in the capacity of election dispute settlement units.

Fourth, all competent agencies should, without delay, map out social weaknesses in regions preparing for their 2005 pilkada. This is important to arrange joint measures at an early stage in anticipation of possible open conflicts between political backers. The police should be fully aware that, unlike legislative and presidential elections, pilkada will not be held simultaneously so that proper mapping and arrangements are needed to handle any violence, and rioting likely to prevail in areas busily engaged in direct elections.

Fifth, it is necessary to promote discussions or workshops involving party leaders, community figures, influential educators, police officers, regional officials and other authorities. These dialogs should deal with concrete steps to face the likelihood of clashes between ardent followers. The involvement of local figures is crucial because they will not only have the opportunity to reveal their problems and seek solutions, but also be bound by the solutions jointly adopted.

The writer is deputy chief editor of detik.com and chairman of the Association for General Elections and Democracy.

Original link: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2004/12/28/anticipating-conflicts-during-direct-regional-elections.html

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One response to “Anticipating conflicts during direct regional elections

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