Defending the Direct Gubernatorial Election


* Pan Mohamad Faiz

Note: Short version of this paper was published in the Jakarta Post on July 9, 2011 (Read the article here)

The political reformation in 1998 has significantly transformed the democratization atmosphere in Indonesia through amendment of the 1945 Constitution. One of its fundamental changes is related to the electoral mechanism on regional leaders for Governors, Regents and Mayors. We used to have indirect election where the regional leaders were chosen by members of local parliament. A year after the enactment of Law Number 32 Year 2004 of Regional Government, the election of regional leaders was changed to direct election which uses one person one vote mechanism.

On the other hand, six years after its implementation, many Indonesians are questioning whether the mechanism of direct election is still appropriate with the aims of democracy itself since it creates economic, social and political burdens. Responding to this condition, the Government has just proposed a bill of local elections which one of its provisions intends to change back the present gubernatorial election into indirect election through local parliament. As a result, this issue has attracted a lot of debate not only among politicians but also between government officers and academicians. This essay will consider some objections to the Government planning to change the gubernatorial election system. Finally, it will put forward a number of reasons why the direct gubernatorial election in Indonesia should not be changed.

In the context of Indonesian political history, several different systems of local election have been implemented. Firstly, the central government appointed the local leaders (pre independence era – 1958); Secondly, the President directly appointed the local leaders (1959-1973); Thirdly, the local parliament nominated candidates of local leaders to the President and they would be decided by the President (1974-1998); Fourthly, the local parliament chose the local leaders without any involvement from central government (1999-2003); Lastly, people elect their own local leader directly through one man one vote mechanism (2004 – present).

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