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Juri Ardiantoro: Monitoring bodies must be free of intervention
Chairman of the General Election Commission (KPU) Juri Ardiantoro at the Commission's office, Jakarta(13/4). Tempo/Amston Probel
Tuesday, 08 November, 2016 | 15:58 WIB
Juri Ardiantoro: Monitoring bodies must be free of intervention

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - As soon as his appointment as chairman of the General Elections Commission (KPU), replacing the late Husni Kamil Manik last July became official, Juri Ardiantoro, 43, wasted no time in stepping on the gas. He immediately set out to prepare for the upcoming simultaneous regional elections.

In the midst of all the preparations, Juri and his fellow KPU commissioners have had to face the polemics emerging from the drafting of KPU Regulations No. 9/2016 on Regional Elections Candidates. The regulation, among other points, allows people convicted of crimes but who are carrying out their sentences outside of prison, to register and run in the regional elections. According to Juri, this regulation was not the KPU’s position. “Our stance has not changed in disallowing convicted criminals to run in elections,” said Juri.

However, the KPU has included the clause because it was the decision of the House of Representatives (DPR) after consulting with the government, which turns out to be legally binding. But the KPU is worried, because it believes the clause is problematic, so it has submitted it to the Supreme Court for a judicial review at the end of September.

In an interview with Tempo reporters Sapto Yunus, Efri Ritonga, Hussein Abri Dongoran and Raymundus Rikang in his office three weeks ago, Juri shared his views on the KPU's preparations for the upcoming elections. Excerpts:

Why did the KPU decide to submit a judicial review of Article 9a of Law No. 10/2016 on the Regional Elections to the Constitutional Court?

The KPU believes preparations for the elections must be free of intervention from any party, either from the DPR or the government, because that would not make our organization independent. That article is problematic, particularly since it also declared it to be 'binding'. Besides, (it's a conflict of interest because) the DPR, representing the political parties, is heavily involved.


How effective will the KPU's argument be on the judicial review? 

From our perspective, we are in a strong position, hence we dared submit our objections. We attached proof on how that piece of legislative/government consultation represented an intervention towards our independence.


What did you submit as proof? 

Minutes of the meetings that led to the final consultation.


How did that idea first come about?

I don't know, but reportedly, the KPU is often seen to be drafting regulations contravening laws. But they should check on conflicting regulations as well as regulations on the KPU commissioners' terms. As long as I have been a commissioner, the KPU has never made any regulations that deviated (from the law). In fact, we create regulations to complement laws and so synchronize each article. That's our job as elections organizers.


Before Law No. 10/2016, had there been any resolution on that consultation? What was the difference? 

Yes, the KPU is required to carry out consultations, but the results are not binding. So, we are allowed to listen and accept inputs from both the DPR and the government, but the final decision rests with the KPU. Now there is an obligation that makes results of the consultation within Law No. 10/2016 binding, whatever becomes a resolution of that meeting must be complied and obeyed by the KPU. This can affect the independence of the KPU when organizing the elections.


For what reasons would the KPU take the initiative to hold consultations?

If we feel there's something not clear about the legislation. We must then ask the law makers about it, and that's the DPR and the government.


But will the DPR and the government be willing to be involved further in elections issues?

In the past, the DPR joined in on discussions about issues of voting. Even the KPU sets the election schedule after thorough consideration, our decisions are still questioned. The KPU maintains its position and cannot be compromised on many issues.


Can you be more specific?

On issues regarding mandatory leave of absence for incumbents, both the DPR and the government demanded that such leaves be made a requirement of incumbents. Should the incumbent refuse to take leave during their registration process, then the KPU could declare the incumbent non-eligible. Whereas the law only states that the obligatory leave of absence is applicable only after the incumbent has been officially named a candidate in the election and has entered the campaign period.


Consultations with the DPR would result, among other things, in the decision that convicted persons not serving time in jail can run in elections, a point which has been included in KPU Regulation No. 9/2016. How does the KPU stand on this? 

Our position has not changed: convicted criminals are not allowed to run in elections. The KPU believes that a convicted criminal is someone who has been found guilty by a court of law. This applies to whatever the crime committed, except for the crime of omission or political crimes which do not lead to war or violence.


The fact is the DPR insists convicted criminals on probation can take part in democratic elections.

They maintain that people convicted of light crimes can take part. So we posed the question, what is the definition of light? They concluded that light crimes are those that do not require people convicted of such crimes to serve time in jail. So, the resolution coming out of the consultation states that convicted criminals who are not serving jail sentences are allowed to run in elections. (*)


Read the full interview in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine

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