- POSTED: 10 Jan 2014 22:41
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Indonesia's election commission has dismissed fears that irregularities in the voters' register may hamper this year's parliamentary and presidential elections.
JAKARTA: Indonesia's election commission has dismissed fears that irregularities in the voters' register may hamper this year's parliamentary and presidential elections.
Low-key campaigning for the parliamentary election will start on Saturday, ahead of a logistically challenging vote involving a broad spectrum of political parties.
Fifteen parties will be contesting in Indonesia's 4th parliamentary election, down from the 44 that participated five years ago, in a clear sign of consolidation among various political denominations.
"A distinctive party; a clear-idea party is the one that's going to thrive more in the upcoming elections if this trend of shrinking down is going to happen again and again," said Danang Kritianto, a researcher at Strategic Asia.
All polls so far point to Golkar and PDI-P -- two of the most established parties -- getting the biggest share of the popular vote.
President Yudhoyono's Democrat Party -- which won in the last election -- is not expected to do well. Its ratings have fallen dramatically after several of its senior members were indicted for corruption.
While trends show centrist national-secular parties dominating the polls, it is by no means the end of smaller parties.
"The parties that Indonesians voters vote for have roots in each region, like in Pasuruan which has deep Islamic roots,” said Mr Kritianto.
“Obviously, they will choose an Islamic party. That's why some of the small parties still exist... because the idea is still rooted in some of these regions."
Elections for the national and the 33 provincial parliaments will be carried out simultaneously.
But even before voters head to the polls on April 9, questions have been raised about the voter roll. Among the 186 million names in the roll, some 3 million have been found without resident identification numbers.
Hadar Gumay from the Indonesian Election Commission said: "These voters, they exist (and are) real. We met them (and) we checked again on them.
“They are over 17 years old or they are married, so have the right to vote (and) participate in the election. It’s just that they don't have this NIK (identification number), so it is an issue of administration. So I don't think it's a big problem."
The Election Commission has until 2 weeks before polling day to clean up the voter roll.
Despite the irregularities, the commission said this year's election will be one of the most transparent Indonesia has ever had.
"We have this system where we can put all in one database -- by name and all detailed information -- of all our voters. Again, this is over 186 million (voters). This is… the first time in Indonesian elections and I think this is the biggest… database of voters,” said Mr Gumay.
Organising elections in the world's third largest democracy is certainly a daunting task.
There will be more than half a million polling stations spread across the Indonesian archipelago, with some areas so remote that officials need to cross rivers and climb mountains to reach voters.
It is a logistical nightmare, but it is democracy -- to make sure every citizen is given his right to choose his representative in government.