Wednesday, September 27, 2023 | 05:45 WIB

Elections and fair competition

Titi Anggraini is member of the Association for Elections and Democracy’s (Perludem) Board of Patrons and untenured lecturer in constitutional law at Universitas Indonesia’s (UI) Faculty of Law. She is widely known as an election expert, with more than 23 years of experience in elections and democracy advocacy. She has been involved in international election monitoring missions in Nepal, the United States, Australia, Myanmar, Cambodia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. She attained her bachelor’s and master’s degree from Universitas Indonesia Faculty of Law in 2001 and 2005, respectively. She is currently pursuing her doctorate at the same university

Directly jumping into a closed system without any measurable scheme on party governance that is open, transparent, accountable and democratic is tantamount to sending voters into the abyss of party elites’ hegemony. This system can only be effective if there is freedom and ease in establishing parties, as in 1999. This way, there is a fair struggle for party identity. However, establishing a party is now extremely difficult. 

Nowadays, the open proportional system – with all its shortcomings – is the only voter’s veto on the exclusive decisions of the party elite. However, the public still faces representatives who shamelessly admit they are more compliant with their party leaders than working to realize constituents’ aspirations and voices.

Many aspects of an open proportional system require improvement. For example, the burden of administration and its complexity can be minimized by separating national elections (electing the President and members of the DPR) and local elections (electing the regional heads and the Regional DPR). Law enforcement against transactional practices, such as political dowry, vote buying and other political bribery, needs to be fostered through more operative regulations and involve law enforcement agencies such as the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK). 

Then what about the assurance for the 2024 electoral system? On May 1-14, 2023, the KPU will open registration for DPR and DPRD candidates, along with their names and identification numbers. As long as no changes are made to the provisions, the nomination of candidates will still be conducted using an open proportional system, as stipulated in Article 167 paragraph 2 of the Election Law. 


The electoral system is not only related to the design of ballots and the affirmation of elected candidates. It also affects the decision of the identification number of candidates and the winning strategy. For example, candidates may choose the same identification number as the party’s number to make the campaign easier. Meanwhile, legislative candidates are currently waiting for the certainty of the electoral system to be used. Some even wonder what the point of being a candidate with the lowest number is if a closed proportional system is applied. It means their chances of winning are next to impossible. 

So, evaluating the electoral system should be done with clear and holistic considerations by thoroughly analyzing the implications. Do not rush, and do not do it during an election stage, especially when the players are ready to enter the ring to fight. The consequences can be fatal for Indonesia’s electoral techniques and the quality of democracy.


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