Election law revision must endure: Legislature

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House Committee II member Guspardi Gaus. (Photo: Rayi Gigih)

IO – Member of House Committee II Guspardi Gaus conceded that the elections law is not to be revised every five years. He hopes that latest revision this time around can be optimized to serve for a longer term, as opposed to accommodating a particular situation and certain vested interests over a five-year cycle. According to him, the elections law should be evaluated after a three or five election cycle instead. It is important to avoid the public perception that the elections law is continuously “fixed” to suit vested political purposes. “We always review the law and look at how it can be used 3 to 5 elections in the future as a norm. That is our commitment in Committee II,” Guspardi said in a press statement on Tuesday (12/1/2021).

The National Mandate Party (PAN) politician said that the elections law should not be revised too often. If it is frequently revised in the lead up to the election, it will give rise to the perception that major political parties in power are using it to achieve their short-term political interest. “Of course, it isn’t appropriate. Thus, we at Committee II have made a commitment that the revision of the elections law going forward must be for the long term and driven by a consideration as the best interest of the nation. Don’t let Indonesia’s democracy be harmed by the practice of short-term regulatory revision to accommodate certain political parties’ interest or anyone else’s,” he warned.

As previously reported, Deputy Chairman of the House’s Legislation Body (Baleg) Willy Aditya said that the House is focused on revising the General Elections Law, targeted for completion in 2021. He said that the draft has been submitted to Baleg. “In regard to national politics in 2021, an agenda has been set to finalize the elections law, because the draft was received by Baleg. It is very thick. This is the first time that a draft revision is this thick. This is the first elections law post-1998 reform which was initiated by the House,” said Willy.

However, Willy said, revision of the elections law will not be easy because every political party has their own vested interest. According to Willy, there are six crucial issues contained in the revision. One of them is related to the simultaneity aspect of the 2024 General Election which many feared is not focused on seeking a national leader. “If the legislative and presidential elections are held simultaneously, the latter will be handled mostly by volunteers as political parties will be busy taking care of their legislative candidates and the candidates in turn will take care of themselves, so politics will be orphaned. That’s what will happen if the elections are held simultaneously,” he said.

Willy said that increase in parliamentary threshold has become a point of consideration in the revision. According to him, raising the parliamentary threshold is in Indonesia a necessity for a more mature democracy. Nasdem Party proposed a 7 percent increase for Parliamentary Threshold, while for the Presidential Threshold we recommended that it be lowered to open room for competition. Other issues underlined by Baleg are electoral districts, vote conversion, open and closed-list proportional representation electoral system in the General and Regional elections (Pilkada). “With regard to Pilkada, our standpoint is to normalize it. Holding all the elections simultaneously will be a very tough undertaking. That should become our concern, it isn’t just about budget efficiency,” he concluded. (dan)