Understanding the flaws in Indonesia's electoral democracy
January-March 2014
By: Ramlan Surbakti

An electoral system functions not only as a procedure and mechanism to convert votes into seats within legislative bodies, but also as a set of instruments for democratization of a political system. As it did in the 2009 national legislative elec­tion, Indonesia will apply a proportional electoral system to elect members of the House of Representatives and at the provincial and district level in its 2014 polls. Hence, what kind of democratic politi­cal system results from proportional elections?

In this essay we will see that Indonesia’s current system is deeply flawed and that proportional representation, the timing of elections and a confused presidential system are having a negative impact on democratic development.

The following is a description of six elements of an electoral sys­tem and its consequences on various aspects of Indonesia’s political democracy.

District size

The system established by the 1945 Constitution can be categorized as al­most bicameral. Aside from the House of Representatives with legislative authority, there is also the Regional Representatives Council, which represents the country’s regions. The allocation of 560 seats in the House of Representatives, or DPR, from Indonesia’s 33 provinces is based not solely on the size of the province’s population, but also on the balance of representation be­tween Java and the other islands (each prov­ince is represented by three seats at a mini­mum), as well as political lobbying in the national legislature. The balance of represen­tation between provinces still affects seat al­location in the DPR, as the authority of the Regional Representatives Council is deemed unequal to that of the national legislature.

Please login to leave a comment