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Regional Election Bill Drama: Is SBY losing grip on his own party?

Jakarta – A senior Democratic Party politician received applauds several times from other legislators as he delivered message on behalf of his Democratic Party faction. Democratic Party proposed the third option, Regional Head Direct Election with 10 additional pre-requisites that should be inserted in the Regional Election Draft Law.

The First Option is Regional Government Heads are directly elected by the people and the Second Option is Regional Government Heads are elected by the Regional People’s Representative Council (DPRD).

The Third Option seems to be the ideal option as it offers total corrections to the Regional Elections held over the past 10 years or so. Awakening Party (PKB), Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) and Hanura Party Factions have also voiced their support to the Democratic Party’s proposed option.

The option is also inline with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s (SBY) speech, broadcast in Youtube recently, voicing his support that regional government heads such as governor, Regency Heads (Bupati) or Municipality Head (Walikota) are directly elected by the people.

Up to this moment, the Indonesian public believes that the Direct Election option will win should the House of Representative Council (DPR) decides to vote to choose the best option.

The so-called ‘Red and White’ Coalition parties, however, rejected the third option proposed by the Democratic Party. National Mandate Party (PAN), PKS, Golkar, United Development Party (PPP) and Gerindra maintained their position to opt for election by DPRD.

As debates heated up, the head of the Plenary Session Priyo Budi Santoso of Golkar Party called for break. As the House of Representative (DPR) members resumed to the meeting, Democratic Party faction made a sudden U-turn. Instead of pushing through the third option, Direct Election by the People, the Democratic Party faction decided to walk out. Yes, walk out from the meeting. The move caused confusion to those DPR members who support the Direct Election option.

“We have been betrayed by the Democratic Party,” a member of PDIP legislator. It was not only the legislators that were betrayed, the people of Indonesia who mostly want to elect their leader directly is betrayed.

Democratic Party’s sudden U-turn paved way for the Election of Regional Heads to be elected by DPRD. The voting was later held just after mid-night without the presence of Democratic Party faction.

The results of voting then came to no surprise: The second option got the most votes — 226 legislators (Golkar 73 votes, PKS 55, PAN 44, PPP 32, Gerindra 22) voted for the second option and 135 legislators (PDIP 88 votes, PKB 20, Hanura 10 , 11 from Golkar and 6 from Democratic Party) voted for direct election option or option one.

This is a historic moment for Indonesia as Regional Heads like Bupati and Governor will be elected by DPRD just like during the New Order Regime. The Indonesian public angered by the DPR’s decision and expressed their anger in social media like twitter and facebook. Some say, “Rest in Peace Democracy”, while others say “Welcome to New Order”. A post with picture of SBY was written on the side ; “President SBY Bapak Pilkada Tidak Langsung Indonesia” (President SBY, Father of Indirect Election of Indonesia).

The decision by Democratic Party Faction to walk out surprised many since President SBY has clearly stated his position to agree for Direct Election. Several Democratic Party legislators have also stated earlier that they will follow the President’s instruction, who is also chairman of Democratic Party.

The question is why Democratic Party legislators made the surprise move to walk out? Why didn’t they follow instruction from President SBY? Why did they defy the instruction of SBY as Democratic Party Chairman? Has the move been endorsed by President SBY as chairman of the party?

The public was kept in the dark until this morning, President SBY said from Washington DC that he was disappointed by the move by Democratic Party legislators to walk out from the Plenary Session and opted for neutral position during the voting. It is not clear whether the President tries to wash his hand from last night’s drama and don’t want to be blamed by the public, or he now simply lost his grip on his own party. The time will tell.

Last night drama also may have given a hint of what to expect of any debates in the Parliament when the newly-elected legislators begin their work. This is a warn to President-elect Joko Widodo and VP-elect Jusuf Kalla. (*)

By Roffie Kurniawan
Executive Editor of www.rambuenergy.com
This article is a personal view of the writer.

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