Lack of Frontrunner ‘Ups Poll Intensity’

The lack of a frontrunner for next year’s presidential election will intensify an already hotly contested race, a political expert said on Friday.

“When all political parties have an equal opportunity … it will make the competition become fierce,” Veri Junaidi, a researcher from the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem), told a forum on Friday. “The political frictions will become stronger.”

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono inability to stand for a third term under the law added to the election’s uncertainty.

Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician Sudiyatmiko Aribowo said rivalries within parties, rather than between them, would be intense.

“Having many legislative candidates from the same party has the potential to create conflict,” he told the discussion.

Elections Supervisory Board (Bawaslu) commissioner Daniel Zuchron said his body was working to ensure the final voter list (DPT), prepared by the General Election Commission (KPU), was valid.

“We are pushing the KPU to be transparent and to have a valid DPT. Of course we were happy when the KPU announced the temporary voter list [DPS] online, but they have to be cross-checked,” Daniel told the forum.

He added that his organization would take a zero-tolerance approach to DPS mistakes. “We at Bawaslu and KPU are working to ensure the data are really valid,” he said.

“There are many ghost voters that could enter the DPT. The stakes for its misuse are very high.”

Veri agreed that the DPT would be vital to the fair conduct of the election, malpractice was likely due to a lack of independence by Bawaslu and the KPU.

“The process in gathering voter data is ongoing. But my prediction is that we’re going to repeat the mistake of the 2009 general elections,” Veri said.

In past elections DPTs have been fraught with problems, including the listing of deceased or nonexistent people and the duplicate listing of others.

Indonesian voters will go to the polls up to three times in national elections next year, firstly to elect members of the House of Representatives, then up to two rounds of voting to select a president.

Indonesians have directly elected their president since 2004, after five years in which the head of state was selected by the legislature. Since the reform era commenced in 1998, elections have been hotly contested.

Twelve parties met the requirements for a nationwide presence and a significant role for women in order to compete in next year’s ballot. This is a small proportion of the number who contested previously elections, and suggests Indonesian democracy is slowly consolidating.