Prabowo Subianto and Hatta Rajasa, losing candidates in the 2014 presidential election, are pushing a bill that would reverse Indonesia's system of direct local elections.
Opponents say the bill – currently debated in the House of Representatives (DPR) – would deal a setback to Indonesian democracy if it becomes law. But members of the Red and White Coalition say it would save money and prevent corruption.
Presently, Indonesians elect local leaders directly, whereas in the past the DPR appointed such leaders. The controversial bill proposes a return to the old centralised system.
Red and White Coalition leaders claim maintaining direct elections of local leaders adds to electoral spending, creating unfair conditions where votes can be rigged.
"This practice is good for preventing corruption and election fraud," former Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) President Hidayat Nur Wahid told Khabar Southeast Asia, referring to the former electoral format.
Ashari Zaki Muhammad, a Tangerang resident, agreed that it was better to revert to the old system of giving parliament the authority to appoint local leaders.
"[By giving DPR this authority,] it is saving the cost of elections. Guess who pays for the elections? It's taxpayer money; we pay for it. If we trust our parliament, then we can limit this cost and use the money to focus more on development," Ashari told Khabar.
As of September 3rd, only two of the nine parties that hold seats in the House of Representatives – the National Awakening Party (PKB) and Presidential-elect Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) – supported direct local elections.
Ahmad Nasrullah, a Central Jakarta resident who does not support Jokowi, nonetheless said he favoured preserving the direct electoral system. In his view, allowing parliament to appoint local leaders is undemocratic.
"How can we claim to be a democratic country if the basic concept of democracy will be limited? People should have their own voices," he told Khabar.
The Red and White Coalition-sponsored bill represents a backward step for Indonesian democracy, said Thamrin Amal Tomagola , a political science professor at the University of Indonesia.
"If the DPR approves this draft, it will raise the risk of money politics," Thamrin told Khabar. "As a result, the money that should be allocated for development, jobs, [and] education will be eliminated to pay those politicians.
"We should understand that our country is a republic and leaders should be directly chosen by the people," he added.