Political parties accused of chasing votes with offer to extend village head terms

Kompas.com – January 23, 2023
Village heads from across Indonesia gather before marching to DPR building – January 17, 2023 (Bahrul Ghofar)

Syakirun Niam, Jakarta – The Indonesian Association of Villages (Apdesi) says that the political parties (parpol) are “enticing” village heads (kades) with a proposal to extend their terms in office in order to attract their empathy ahead of the 2024 legislative and presidential elections.

Apdesi Organisational Advisory Board (MPO) Chairperson Asri Anas said that the village heads that took to the streets in front of the House of Representatives (DPR) building recently demanding an extension of their terms in office were enticed by this offer.

“Our friends know how politics is used to get empathy in the lead up to the 2024 elections”, said Anas when contacted by Kompas.com by phone on Sunday January 22.

Anas related how over the last eight years Apdesi has fought for wage increases for village heads, operational funds and wage payments that are not dispersed once every three months.

Over this period of time however, not one political party has responded. Also, the government has never once touched on extending village heads’ terms in office.

Now however, ahead of the election year, the political parties, particularly the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the National Awakening Party (PKB), have been enticing village heads with this offer.

“But when it's going into the elections suddenly the term in office issue [comes up], right”, he said.

Anas admitted that they understand the approach taken by the political parties every five years before elections.

According to Anas the political parties are aware that if they can gain support from village heads in Central Java (Jateng) or East Java (Jatim) they can secure 50 percent of local village people's votes.

"If they get the support, there's no need to go far, just one province, Jatim (or) Jateng, from village heads, I'm sure they can get a minimum of 50 percent of votes in a village", said Anas.

Apdesi claims he doesn't have a problem with the village heads, even if their members take part in demanding an extension of their terms in office. This is because the problem arose from an offer by the political parties.

Therefore, said Anas, Apdesi also understands when village heads in several regions have threatened that the political parties' votes will collapse in the next elections if the "enticement" is not realised.

Meanwhile the realisation of the promise requires revising the stipulations under Law Number 6/2014 on Villages, which limits a village head's term in office to six years.

How serious the offer is, he said, will be seen from whether or not the revisions to Law Number 6/2014 are included in the 2023 Priority National Legislation Program (Prolegnas).

"If it doesn't get included in the Prolegnas just wait for the next campaign by village heads, right, 'don't vote for parpols who make false promises', the campaign will be like that later", said Anas.

"In the case of our friends from Madura, Maluku, Sulawesi, who are more hard headed, it could sink the parpols in 2024", he added.

Earlier thousands of village heads protested at the DPR on Tuesday January 17 demanding that their terms in office be extended to nine years.

The village heads called for changes to the stipulations under the Village Law that limit the term in office to only six years and for candidates to nominate themselves for three periods.

Kompas.com has tried to contact PDI-P Secretary General Hasto Kristianto, PDI-P Central Leadership Board Chairperson Djarot Saiful Hidayat and PKB Deputy Chairperson Jazilul Fawaid to confirm the issue.

As of this article being printed however, they have not yet responded.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Apdesi Sebut Parpol Goda Kades dengan Perpanjangan Masa Jabatan untuk Suara di Pemilu 2024".]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2023/01/23/08290071/apdesi-sebut-parpol-goda-kades-dengan-perpanjangan-masa-jabatan-untuk-suara