The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) have warned about potential vote buying in the upcoming simultaneous regional elections, which the government insists on holding on December 9 despite the ongoing Covid-19 epidemic.
Both agencies are worried candidates may woo voters – especially those who are suffering from financial hardship as a result of the epidemic – by offering money or basic goods.
The December 9 elections will elect 270 regional leaders comprising nine governors, 37 mayors and 224 regents and will include some of the provinces and regencies hardest hit by the pandemic.
Bawaslu commissioner Fritz Edward Siregar for example says that incumbents running for reelection were more likely to partake in vote buying given their access to social assistance funds – which are provided by the government but distributed by regional administrations.
There have already been cases of Covid-19 aid being used for political purposes. In Central Java, Klaten Regent Sri Mulyani – who is seeking a second term in office – was criticised recently for putting her image on bottles of hand sanitiser handed out in aid packages. Mulyani has denied that it was her decision to put stickers on the bottles.