An unprecedented large number of candidates are standing in Indonesia’s local elections

Nominations closed on Tuesday (Jul 28) for candidates taking part in Indonesia’s local elections, which for the first time ever, will be conducted simultaneously across the country.
The polls, to be held Dec 9, will see governors, district heads and mayors elected to lead 269 provinces, districts and cities.  In some districts however, the nomination period has been extended to Sunday because of a lack of contestants. The once-powerful Golkar Party, troubled by recent internal conflicts, managed to settle its differences in time to nominate at least 219 pairs of candidates for this year’s direct local elections.

Political experts expect parties will use these elections to exert their influence on the ground, in the run-up to the next presidential election. At the same time, local election results could be seen as a report card for President Joko Widodo, who is with the Indonesia Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP). “We will have to see whether the parties that are going to win the elections are going to be those that belong to PDIP, and other members of Jokowi’s coalition, or would they belong to the Gerindra, Golkar, and the other parties representing the opposition,” said Dr Alexander Raymond Arifianto, research fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies. “More importantly this is going to be a referendum for Jokowi’s policies after he’s been one year in office.”

The General Elections Commission says 810 pairs of candidates were registered to contest in the local elections by Wednesday (Jul 29), after nominations closed for most districts. However, the large number of potential candidates has raised concern. “From the democratic perspective this is good, but the quality still makes us worried, especially because according to the regulations everybody can become a candidate, and mostly they are chosen because they have a lot of money,” said Dr Indria Samego, a professor of research and development at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences.