Covid-19 which began to hit Indonesia since early March this year resulted in the postponement of the Simultaneous Regional Head Election from September 23 to December 9, 2020. This was decided through Government Regulation in Lieu of Law signed by President Joko Widodo on May 4, 2020. It also accommodates the option of further postponement if the Covid-19 pandemic has not subsided and has the potential to disrupt the course of the elections.
The General Election Commission had submitted three scenarios to postpone the elections. First, the election is postponed for three months from the original plan, or carried out on December 9, 2020. The second scenario is for six months or around March 17, 2021; and the third one is for 12 months to 29 September 2021. The House of Representatives finally took the first option, which is 9 December 2020.
However, taking into account various considerations, this decision was considered by many related stakeholders as an impossible mission. An epidemiologist from the University of Indonesia, Syahrizal Syarif once said that it would take at least six months for life to return to normal after the pandemic is declared over. While at present, he said, the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in Indonesia has not yet reached its peak. Related to the 2020 elections which are postponed until December 2020, Chairman of the General Election Commission, Arief Budiman during an online discussion entitled 'Building Democracy Amidst Pandemic', Friday (05/15) revealed pessimism it could be carried out if people’s discipline in conducting physical distancing is very low. According to Arief, the Commission must start the stages of the elections in early June 2020 so that the elections can be carried out on time. It is impossible to do if the Large-Scale Social Restrictions are still in place.
Organizing local elections especially simultaneously in several provinces, cities and districts throughout Indonesia is not an easy problem. It takes time and stages before reaching the actual implementation, starting from the selection of the voting committee, verification of the support requirements for individual candidates, the formation of voter data updating officers, as well as updating and preparing voter lists. All of these have to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Postponing the elections until the right time is a wise step to do since the government and related authorities will have more time to prepare themselves. Moreover, carrying out elections amidst the pandemic has the potential to increase spending, because each polling station must run health protocols, such as physical distancing, the provision of masks, gloves, hand sanitizers and thermo guns.
But delaying the democratic process for too long is not without risk. Because it means that delaying the determination of new regional heads and their ranks with all the accompanying policies is related to the future of a region.
Hopefully the Cocvid-19 pandemic ends soon.