Evaluation of Election Management Structure

Publication Date: 
31 Jan 2000

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INTRODUCTION AND GENERAL SUMMARY

The June 7, 1999 parliamentary elections in the Republic of Indonesia were a transitional step toward democratic rule and a professional, independent election administration. Although, for the most part, election day was a peaceful expression of the franchise, the election was seriously flawed administratively.

There were high expectations and strong support from the international community for professional election management; however, there was not a significant break from previous' elections in terms of the election administration. In fact, election committee members from several levels reported that they were appointed to their committee and the committee had been organized long before any regulations were received from the National Election Commission (KPU). Several election administrators mentioned that those committee members with past elections' experience were relied upon for guidance.

Election committee members interviewed at all levels and provinces were unclear about their responsibilities on the election committee. Most could not define their scope of work and duties other than their participation in plenary sessions. Committee members indicated that they did the work that was assigned to them by the committee or chairperson. Many committee members expressed that they were active and worked very hard. However, they could not identify their specific work on the committee.

Election committee members reported that the training was inconsistent' or non-existent throughout the country. As was discovered in phase one of the poll worker training evaluation, few election .committee members received training. Instructors were not prepared or had little election knowledge. Respondents described the sessions as "poor". Training materials in most provinces were not used during the training or were received after the committee had concluded its work.

Election committee members reported confusion regarding the type of training that occurred. Some respondents indicated they attended training sessions two months before the election where voter registration was discussed. With the government's training effort beginning approximately three weeks before the election, it appears that training, not sanctioned or conducted by the National Election Commission (KPU) or the National Election Committee (PPI), was conducted by government officials who relied on past procedures and regulations, and not those of the General Election Law approved in February of 1999. Political party training also occurred throughout Indonesia and this also led to confusion regarding the "official" training for election committee members. As most committee members were active political party members, any training regarding the election could be misconstrued as election procedure training.

The election management structure evaluation clearly supports the serious need to professionalize the election apparatus, in which political parties can dominate, but do not necessarily run, the election committees. Most respondents observed that this dominance by political parties at each committee level contributed to the conduct of "free and fair" elections. They also noted that they, as political party representatives, were ill prepared and not qualified for the election work.

In organizing the election administration, more concern was placed on the inclusion of all political parties in the system than on professional, impartial election administration. The inclusion of all political parties, in some instances, contributed to long delays in decisionmaking, partisanism, and a lack of objectivity on many issues.

One additional element contributing to the poor election management was the role of the Secretariat within each committee. In some cases, the Secretariat withheld information and regulations from the members of the committee. Respondents reported that most Secretariats controlled the funding provided by the KPU. Members also noted that some Secretariats perceived themselves as not accountable to the committee. Some respondents felt the cooperation between the committee and the Secretariat was poor.

In a country as large and diverse as Indonesia, it is critical that the KPU undertake an evaluation of the election management structure and be prepared to take the necessary steps to professionalize and standardize the administration of elections. Only with a competent group of professional administrators can election problems be avoided in future elections. The election process could be easily manipulated by partisan interests and unethical behavior if it is allowed to continue in the current manner.

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