Early this month, the General Elections Commission (KPU) officially banned those who have been convicted of corruption from running for public office, despite opposition from parliament and government agencies. A legal challenge to KPU’s ban seems inevitable, and it looks like many corruption ex-cons are banking on the hope that it will be repealed as hundreds have registered to run for regional councils (DPRD) in 2019.
According to the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu), 199 politicians have been convicted of corruption have gone through the first steps in registering as canidates for DPRD seats next year. Thirty of them have registered at the provincial level, along with 148 at the regency level and 21 at the city level.
Bawaslu did not reveal the individual identities of the ex-cons but said that the provinces with the largest number of registrations is Jambi with nine. One has registered in Jakarta.
Those registering for legislative seats will still have to go through numerous verification processes over the next few months. The KPU will announce the list of officially registered legislative candidates on September 20, taking into account the ban in order to prevent corruption convicts from running for office.
Before KPU enacted the ban, corruption convicts who had been sentenced to less than five years in prison had been allowed to run as long as they met an ambiguous requirement to declare their criminal history to the voting public.
The first elections the new regulation will apply to will be those taking place in April 2019, assuming it can stand up to the coming legal challenges. In previous meetings between KPU representatives and reps from the House of Representatives (DPR) to discuss the regulations, legislators fiercely protested on the grounds that it ran contrary to current laws and even argued that it was a violation of human rights (the rights of the convicted corruptors that is).
Somewhat surprisingly, Bawaslu and even President Joko Widodo’s Home Affairs Ministry (Kemendagri) opposed the KPU’s plan on those same grounds. But KPU officials have pushed through the regulation anyways, arguing that they had a strong legal basis for it (corruption convicts are already legally barred from running as presidential and vice presidential candidates) and were ready for it to be challenged in court.