3 parties suggest raising the parliamentary threshold

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PDIP General Secretary Hasto Krisyanto states that his Party would like to revise Law Number 7 of 2017 concerning elections, so that the parliamentary threshold can be upped from 4% to 5%. (Photo: JPNN Doc)

IO, Jakarta – Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan – “PDIP”), the victor of this term’s elections, proposed in its National Work Meeting that the Central Leadership Council (Dewan Pimpinan Pusat – “DPP”) of political parties and Party Factions at the House of Representatives (“DPR”) revise the Elections Law. PDIP also urges the Government to alter the process of elections by installing a closed proportional system, as well as raising the parliamentary threshold, to at least 5% of votes for the national DPR, 4% for the Provincial Regional House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Daerah – “DPRD”), and 3% for Regency or Municipal DPRD. The current ruling for the 2019 Legislative Elections has the same threshold for all three levels at 4%, and nine political parties passed this limit and entered the 2019-2024 DPR. 

PDIP General Secretary Hasto Krisyanto states that his Party would like to revise Law Number 7 of 2017 concerning elections, so that the parliamentary threshold can be upped from 4% to 5%. “The First National Work Meeting of PDIP in 2020 recommends that the DPP of Parties and DPR RI’s PDIP Faction change Indonesia’s electoral system back to a closed-list proportional system, while raising the parliamentary threshold to at least 5%,” he declared at JIExpo Kemayoran, Central Jakarta, on Sunday (12/01/2020). 

To repeat, Hasto stated that the PDIP wants to implement a three-tiered parliamentary threshold, as explained above. “Change in district magnitude (3-10 seats for Provincial, Regency, and Municipal DPRD and 3-8 seats of DPR RI), and to moderate the conversion of votes into seats, using the Sainte Laguë method, in order to create an effective presidential and government structure, strengthening and simplifying the party system while suppressing electoral costs,” he said. 

In response to this suggestion, Vice General Chairman of Functional Group (Golongan Karya – “Golkar”) Party Faction’s DPP Bambang Soesatyo (“Bamsoet”) stated that the threshold should in fact be raised from time to time. This would tend to discourage the creation of an excessive number of parties in the Parliament, as per his statement in the Parliamentary Complex, Jakarta, on Tuesday (14/01/2020). He suggests that in the future, the parliamentary threshold could be raised to 6%-7%, as a higher threshold means a more effective parliament. “The concern of effectiveness is something that we need to consider for the sake of the people themselves,” he said. 

Similar to Bamsoet, Chairman of the Prosperous Justice Party (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera – “PKS”) DPP Mardani Ali Sera, welcomes the PDIP recommendation for a parliamentary threshold. He even suggested that the parliamentary threshold be raised to 7%. “Naturally, we appreciate PDIP’s suggestion. Since PKS is in a more advanced position, we propose that the national parliamentary threshold be raised to 7%. However, we agree with PDIP’s recommendation that the Regency/Municipal thresholds and Provincial threshold be raised to 2% and 3%, respectively,” he said in Jakarta on Tuesday (14/01/2020). 

On the other hand, Mardani suggests that the presidential threshold be lowered, in order to allow more presidential candidates to compete. “The social cost for having only two candidates go head to head for the past two elections is too high. However, if we have 3 or 4 candidates because our threshold is only 7% instead of 20%, it would be much better,” he said. 

As for PDIP’s suggestion that the electoral system be returned to a closed proportional system, Mardani stated that PKS initially agreed. However, reversion towards this system should be accompanied by a revision of the Political Party Law in order to prevent the people from losing their right to select their desired legislative candidate. “However, in view of the fact that we have been using the open proportional system for the past three elections, PKS suggests a compromise. If the 50% plus one vote in an Electoral Region is won by the party, let’s use the closed system. On the other hand, if 50% plus one vote is won by the Legislative Candidate, let’s go for the open system,” he said. 

Separately, Vice Chairman of Democrat Party’s DPP Syarief Hasan is confident that the current parliamentary threshold is sufficient. In fact, it is enough to keep parties that previously entered Senayan to remain outside now. He is concerned that instead of improving the quality of our democracy, a higher threshold would actually overpower some parties. “In fact, it is hard for some parties to get even as many as 5% of votes,” he said. 

The United Development Party (Partai Persatuan Pembangunan – “PPP”) is one of the parties that is finding increased parliamentary threshold difficult. Its DPP Vice Chairman, Arwani Thomafi, believes that a steeper threshold will result in more wasted votes in future elections, because such votes would be cast for parties that fail to reach the stipulated threshold. The accumulated votes of the seven political parties that fail in the latest election was 13.59 million votes. “This is something important for us to consider if we want to raise the parliamentary threshold,” he said. 

University of Indonesia political observer Syahrul Hidayat stated that if parliamentary threshold is raised, there will be too many parties shut out of the Parliament. However, as Legislative Elections in Indonesia use a proportional parliamentary system, one which accommodates parties into the parliament according to the number of votes that they get, the current threshold is sufficiently proportional. However, if the purpose of raising the threshold in the Parliament is for the President can easily get the support of more than 50% of votes in the parliament, then reducing the number of parties would also be a good way to prevent parliamentary deadlocks. “But the question is – no matter how high the threshold is set – are the parties ready to satisfy the requirement to get the people’s support? I would say that large parties would agree to the suggestion, but smaller parties with vote count of lower than 7% would be quite nervous,” he said. 

However, Syahrul thinks differently in relation to the Presidential Elections, which has relied on the presidential system of two presidential candidates two times in a row. He believes that in the future, it is most likely that the system of two candidates will remain. However, if a lot of people want to have more than two presidential candidates in the upcoming Presidential Election, lowering the presidential threshold to 20% would be a good choice. “However, we must ensure that we can accommodate the third candidate etc., that we actually do have the political, social, logistic, and financial support necessary to support Presidential Elections with more candidates,” he said. (Dan)