In recent times, almost each year can be called a ‘political year’ for Indonesia as a big number of elections – especially at the regional level – need to be organized in this vast archipelago. Considering there are 34 provinces in Indonesia, containing 514 regents (kabupaten) and cities (kota), we see elections almost every year.
While the year 2020 was not as big in terms of political elections compared to 2019 (when Indonesia’s presidential and legislative elections were held) the 2020 local elections of Indonesia were still an important and complex event as around 100.3 million Indonesians were eligible to vote in these election (which equals around 52 percent of the electorate in the 2019 presidential election).
In the 2020 regional elections of Indonesia, held on 9 December 2020, a total of 270 regions organized elections, allowing local residents to determine 9 new governors, 224 new regents, and 37 new mayors.
What made these 2020 regional elections particularly special is that they had to be organized amid the COVID-19 pandemic, hence health and hygiene protocols were tight, especially considering the number of new COVID-19 cases remains growing in Indonesia at (near) record high levels.
It means that the General Elections Commission (Komisi Pemilihan Umum, or KPU) not only had the tough task of making sure that Indonesia’s 2020 regional elections were held in a just and fair manner, but also that all safety protocols were imposed and complied with.
In fact, since COVID-19-related concern was – and still is – so high across the country, there were many people who would prefer to see these regional elections postponed until after the COVID-19 crisis has ended. Not only was there the risk that people may fall ill if they come too close to someone who is infected with the virus, but also was there the risk that relatively few people would show up as they are concerned about COVID-19 (which would then also limit the impact of the central government’s decision to make the 9th of December 2020 a national public holiday; an attempt to make it easier for people in relevant regions to cast their vote, thereby strengthening the democratic fundamentals).
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