Indonesia Scraps Direct Regional Elections

Indonesia Scraps  Direct Regional Elections Indonesia Scraps  Direct Regional Elections

Indonesia’s parliament on Friday approved a measure ending direct elections for governors and mayors, a move president-elect Joko Widodo criticised as a “big step back” for democracy in the country.

Indonesia introduced direct elections for regional leaders in 2005, allowing the emergence of a new breed of politician free of links to the political elite, with Widodo being the best-known example.

But direct elections in Indonesia have also proven to be costly, and in many cases, corrupt, according to Reuters. 

“More than 60 percent of regional leaders were linked to corruption cases because they have spent a lot of money,” said Rindoko Dahono Wingit, a lawmaker with the Gerindra party that voted for the bill.

Despite strong public opposition, a divided parliament passed the bill giving legislative assemblies the power to choose local leaders. Some opinion polls before the vote showed that up to 91 percent of Indonesians favored direct elections.

Outgoing president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said he would respect parliament’s decision, but his Democratic Party would launch a legal challenge to the legislation.

The result was a blow to Widodo’s Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle, which failed to secure the political support needed to scuttle the legislation. The party’s coalition is in a minority in the next parliament.