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The simultaneous elections

held in

171 regions across Indonesia in June

this year to elect mayors, regents and

governors proceeded without any

serious issues. The 73 percent voter

turnout showed an increased public

awareness of and enthusiasm for

democracy. And the fact that several

election disputes are now being

adjudicated by the Supreme Court

shows that law enforcement is essential

in politics. All in all, the local elections

have proved that democracy works and

saw the election of leaders who are trusted by the people to

develop their respective regions and raise their quality of life.

However, some shortcomings still prevail. Among others,

money politics as disclosed by the election authorities. Some

regional candidates have engaged in buying votes. Another

issue is that some candidates’ popularity proved to be more

important than political party support. This has led to

campaigns more focused on offering personal popularity and

wealth rather than on the candidates’ programs.

Another crucial issue is that coalitions between supporting

political parties have been very liquid, with different patterns

emerging from one region to the next. This proved that

instead of vision, mission or ideology, political pragmatism

has become the basis of coalitions.

Of course, these issues will obstruct efforts to develop and

nurture democracy as a crucial instrument to produce leaders

and leadership, to continue the country’s development and

improve the welfare of the people as mandated by



which has been implemented by all national stakeholders over

the past 20 years.

The world’s third-largest democracy should

continuously develop its political system by improving the

quality of political parties and their members, their political

behavior and the quality of mechanisms used to select and

recruit leaders through local elections, general elections and

presidential elections. The most instrumental of this effort has

been the strengthening of the political culture as the basis of

the political process and structure, which is nothing else than

Pancasila – the nation’s ideology and philosophy.

In this effort, the success of the local elections should

become an important asset to continue the development of the

democratic system – particularly with regard to next year’s

legislative and presidential elections – while the shortcomings

should be addressed and not repeated, meaning that there

should be no more money politics and vote buying. Candidates,

as well as voters, should be educated to not get involved in the

bad practice of political transactions. 

Legislative candidates should present voters with their

political parties’ programs, while presidential and vice-

presidential candidates should compete and convince people

that their respective visions, road maps and programs are

the best to bring progress to the nation and a better quality

of life for all. On the other hand, people at large, but voters

in particular, should be educated and encouraged to refuse

campaigns involving money and the exploitation of ethnic,

racial or religious differences.

However, while 16 political parties have submitted the

names of more than 8,300 candidates in 80 constituencies

for the upcoming legislative elections only 10 days before the

Aug. 10 registration deadline, it is not yet clear who will be

the running mate of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, whose

bid for re-election on April 17 next year has been endorsed

by a coalition consisting of the National Democratic Party

(NasDem), Golkar Party, Indonesian Democratic Party of

Struggle (PDI-P), People’s Conscience Party (Hanura), United

Development Party (PPP) and National Awakening Party (PKB).

Several names have emerged as potential vice-presidential

candidates, including Mahfud MD, Maaruf Amin and Muldoko,

all of whom lack political party affiliation, while another

potential running mate, Airlangga Hartarto, is the chairman

of Golkar. Yet, it is likely that the candidate may only be

announced at the last minute, before the close of registration. 

Even more so, although Prabowo Subianto, chairman of

the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), has been

named as a presidential candidate for quite some time, the

coalition consisting of his party, the Prosperous Justice Party

(PKS) and National Mandate Party (PAN), has yet to declare its

presidential candidate, let alone vice-presidential candidate.

Names that have been mentioned as Prabowo’s running mates

include Achmad Heryawan, Zulkifli Hassan, Anies Baswedan,

Salim Segaf and Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono.

But it is still unclear which parties will be in his coalition

because unlike those in Jokowi’s coalition, which have pledged

to support whoever the vice-presidential candidate may be,

the parties in Prabowo’s coalition may walk away if their

candidates are not accommodated. The dynamics even go as

far as the possibility, based on speculation from both camps,

of Prabowo becoming Jokowi’s running mate. 

The political elites have been waiting for a Constitutional

Court ruling on whether the 20 percent presidential threshold,

as required by law, should be scrapped. If this request is

granted, political parties would no longer be required to

join coalitions to nominate presidential and vice-president

candidates. This will mean that there will be more than two

presidential and vice-presidential tickets.

Another eagerly awaited Constitutional Court ruling is

whether a former president or vice president will be allowed to

run for a third term in office. It could even rule that a person

may run for the same office only if he or she has not occupied

the same position for two consecutive terms. If it is the latter,

then Jokowi will have the option of choosing Jusuf Kalla, who

is said to be eyeing the vice-presidential slot once more. 

Although in the eyes of the writer there is no constitutional

basis for the court to rule in favor of either of these two

judicial reviews, it is of course up to the court to decide and

its ruling will be final and binding. Whatever the ruling, all

stakeholders – the General Elections Commission (KPU),

government, political parties, nongovernment organizations,

observers, mass media and social media – should work hand-

in-hand to ensure that next year’s legislative and presidential

elections are a success.

From Local, Legislative to Presidential Elections

Theo L. Sambuaga


Group Editorial

Board, BSMH