Indonesia Again Passes Test Of Democracy In Second Simultaneous "Pilkada"

"We must be grateful that the simultaneous elections had taken place peacefully and smoothly," President Jokowi said at a press conference at the Merdeka Palace, on Feb. 16, 2017.
Jakarta (Antara News) - Millions of eligible Indonesian voters exercised their rights to directly vote for regional heads in the second regional head elections, or locally called pilkada, simultaneously held in 101 regions across the country on Feb 15, 2017.

A total of 41.8 million people were registered to vote in 31 provinces. The voter turnout was over 65 percent, which is overall quite good, but lower than 77.5 percent, which was the target set by the National General Election Commission (KPU), the executor of pilkada.

The regions from the westernmost province of Aceh to the easternmost province of Papua organized the local elections to elect governors and deputy governors in seven provinces, district heads and deputy district heads in 78 districts, and mayors and deputy mayors in 18 cities.

The seven provinces were Aceh, Bangka Belitung, DKI Jakarta, Banten, Gorontalo, West Sulawesi, and West Papua. A total of 337 pairs of candidates competed for the gubernatorial seats in these provinces.

President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) on Feb 16 praised the smooth and peaceful implementation of the pilkada. He also thanked all community members who took part in the elections.

"We must be grateful that the simultaneous elections had taken place peacefully and smoothly," he said at a press conference at the Merdeka Palace.

"I wish to thank all the members of the General Election Commission (KPU), the General Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu), the police, the military, and all security personnel who had worked very hard so far," he stated.

Jokowi, as he is also called, was flanked by Coordinating Minister for Political, Security and Legal Affairs Wiranto; Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo; and Presidential Special Staff for Communication Johan Budi Sapto Prabowo.

He hoped that after the elections, people would prioritize unity. "I appeal to the people to place brotherhood, solidarity, and unity above everything, so that we can immediately focus on development programs that bring prosperity and justice to all the people of Indonesia," he added.

National Police Chief General Tito Karnavian confirmed that the second pilkada was relatively more safe and peaceful.

"The local elections were held safely without any disturbances," Karnavian said.

The national police lauded the people who upheld democracy and the gubernatorial candidates who showed maturity in politics.

In addition, he lauded the local government, military, public, and other elements who helped in maintaining security throughout the election, so that all forms of disorders could be anticipated as early as possible as part of the efforts to avoid conflicts.

"The synergy of all the parties helped in creating a more conducive climate in each region," he remarked.

No significant incidents were reported during the implementation of the elections, including in Aceh and Papua Provinces, which are considered prone to security disturbances.

He stated that he expected people to continue to maintain peaceful, stable, and conducive situations during elections.

Following the local elections, Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo met Jokowi at the Presidential Palace to report the peaceful implementation of pilkada.

"Only in one area in Sangihe Talaut, North Sulawesi, the weather conditions disrupted the elections, but in general, they were held orderly and peacefully, and that was what we reported to the president," Kumolo stated.

With a population of over 250 million, Indonesia, the worlds fourth most populous nation after China, India, and the United States, has so far demonstrated mature democratic values with the country holding its first direct presidential election in 2004 that was conducted peacefully and smoothly.

The first pilkada was held simultaneously in 264 regions in 32 out of Indonesias 34 provinces on Dec 9, 2015.

The local elections were participated by 810 pairs of regional head candidates, including 122 incumbents contesting for the posts of eight governors and vice governors, 222 district heads and their deputies, and 34 mayors and their deputies.

They included 123 women contesting for regional heads or deputy regional heads, or only 7.32 percent of the total candidates.

Some 100,461,890 Indonesians, comprising of 50,297,463 men and 50,164,427 women, were eligible to vote in the 2015 pilkada, according to the 2015 data provided by the KPU.

More than 140 thousand police officers and 35,079 military officers were deployed to ensure security during the local elections.

As for the second pilkada, the Jakarta pilkada was the spotlight, nearly overwhelming the implementation of other local elections throughout the country.

The Jakarta gubernatorial election was being contested by three pairs, namely incumbent Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok) and Djarot Saiful Hidayat, former education minister Anies Baswedan and successful businessman Sandiaga Uno, as well as former rising military star Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono and former Central Jakarta mayor Sylviana Murni.

The KPU will officially announce the results of the pilkada on March 4, 2017.

As for Jakarta, it is most likely that the second round pilkada will be held if none of the three contestants emerge as majority winner with votes amounting to at least 50 percent of the total.

The second round pilkada is scheduled to be organized on April 19, 2017. ***2*** (f00/INE)

(T.F001/A/KR-BSR/A/H-YH) 18-02-2017 17:39:21