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

The 560 members of the House are elected in 77 constituencies, 39 of which are in six provinces within Java, compet­ing for 306 seats (55 percent). There are 38 constituencies in 27 provinces outside of Java competing for 254 seats (45 percent). By looking at the House of Representatives’ seats allocation, it’s obvious that it does not reflect equal representation. Provinces that are categorized as “underrepresented,” where one seat equals between 430,000 to 560,000 citizens, include Riau Islands, Riau, West Nusa Tenggara and North Sumatera; provinces that are categorized as “overrep­resented,” with one seat equaling 255,000 to 354,000 citizens, include West Papua, Papua, Aceh, West Sumatra, North Maluku, South Sulawesi, Gorontalo and East Nusa Tenggara, all outside of Java.

What are the consequences of the size of constituencies and the distribution of seats in the House of Representatives? As many as 70 out of 77 constituencies in the House can be categorized as medium multi-member ones, as they have between six and 10 seats. The size of a constituency ensures both the level of representation and also the opportunity for small to medium-sized political parties to obtain seats. Which political parties will ob­tain more seats? For provinces within Java, as well as a number of underrepresented prov­inces outside of Java, obtaining seats is more challenging compared to constituencies in Outer Java, in particular overrepresented provinces.

Participants and the pattern of candidacy

Indonesia applies an irregular mechanism to determine political party eligibil­ity. Ideally, all political parties, both those that meet the electoral threshold for the DPR and those that do not, should be able to participate in the next election. These parties should not have to undergo the verification process as election participants; only new political parties need to do so. However, Article 8 of Law Number 8/2012 on Legislatives Election stipulates that new political parties and existing parties that fail

to meet the threshold for the House must again undergo the verification process. As a consequence, 29 political parties that failed to meet the electoral threshold in 2009 filed a petition to the Constitutional Court to annul Article 8. The court agreed and even ordered that all political parties which participated in 2009 (including the nine political parties that met the threshold and won seats) would again undergo the verification process for the April 2014 election. Based on the verification process, conducted across all of Indonesia’s 33 provinces, Indonesia’s General Elections Commission (KPU) approved 12 political parties to participate in this year’s poll.

Please login to leave a comment