General Election bill to be revised in 2021

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Deputy Chairman of the House’s Legislative Body (Baleg) DPR Willy Aditya. (Doc. DPR RI)

IO – Deputy Speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) Lestari Moerdijat has declared that political issues which had recently taken center stage needed to be promptly resolved so as not to become an obstacle to economic recovery this year. “We must not forget that apart from the economic problems and our optimism about recovery, we still have to pay attention to socio-political issues. Do not allow this to become a hindrance later on,” she said in the Forum Denpasar 12 discussion titled “Asa Politik Indonesia 2021”, Wednesday (6/1). 

Lestari, who is also member of the NasDem Party’s Supreme Council, said that the political and social problems that arise need to be considered so they will not weaken public optimism regarding the handling of the pandemic and economic recovery. “We know that the government has just banned certain organizations whose ideology is not in line with that of the state. However, we are also surprised that based on a survey, our young generation are being radicalized at an alarming rate,” she warned. 

Lestari said that early in the year there was enthusiasm and public optimism that Indonesia could recover. From several projections, she added, there are high hopes that the economy can bounce back this year. Moreover, the government has decided to vaccinate all citizens free of charge. “Of course, we are optimistic about the economy but we still have to prioritize humanity, because it should come always first,” she said. 

She also hopes that state officials and politicians can demonstrate strong leadership to bring people out of a Covid-induced downturn. “We also hope that the leaders, stakeholders, state officials and especially fellow politicians can demonstrate mindfulness and compassionate leadership, so that we can all work ourselves out of this difficult situation,” she said. 

General election bill 

Deputy Chairman of the House Legislation Body (Baleg) Willy Aditya stated the simultaneous regional election (Pilkada) in 2019 can serve as a lesson-learned, so that the presidential election (Pilpres) will not appear to be sidelined, because it is carried out together with the legislative election (Pileg). “There are many things we can learn from the 2019 simultaneous election. But for me the most important thing is how to ensure that Pilpres is not ‘orphaned’ because a president is nominated by a political party,” he said. 

Thus, according to Willy, the House is focused on completing the revision on the General Elections bill in 2021. He said that a draft revision has already been submitted to Baleg. “This should become a prioritized agenda because the manuscript has been submitted to Baleg. It is very thick. This is the first time that a bill is this thick. It is the first general election law initiated by the House post-1998 reform,” Willy pointed out. 

He went on to state that the revision of the general election law is not a simple matter, because every political party has an interest in it. According to Willy, there are six crucial issues that should be addressed, one of which regards the simultaneous nature of the 2024 General Election, the focus of which is feared not on seeking a national leader. “If the legislative and presidential elections are held simultaneously, then the former will be handled by volunteers and the party will be busy taking care of their legislative candidates; the candidates will take care of themselves, so politics will lose its ‘father’ and ‘mother’. This should be considered,” he warned. 

Willy said the issue of a higher parliamentary threshold is also a highlight in the revision. According to him, increasing the parliamentary threshold is a necessity for the maturation of the democratic process in Indonesia. “NasDem proposes 7 per cent for parliamentary threshold and advises the presidential threshold to be lowered to open a room for just competition,” he explained. 

Other issues that became the focus of Baleg include electoral districts (dapil), vote conversion, open and closed proportional systems in general elections and Pilkada. “In the last Pilkada, we were dedicated to normalize the Pilkada, so the plan for all the general elections to be conducted simultaneously is tough. This should also be considered, not just budget efficiency,” he criticized. 

Separately, Nahdlatul Ulama’s chairman for law, human rights and legislation KH Robikin Emhas said that the current generation must be safeguarded from radical views that are contrary to religious teaching. “Generation Z must not be easily enticed by someone donning religious dress, who preaches something that sounds as if it comes from the scripture, but is in fact contrary to what the religion is actually teaching,” cautioned Robikin.

 According to him, there are groups who say that Indonesia is not yet sharia, while in fact the existing laws contain the principles of sharia law. “If anyone says this, I want to counter that this is a big mistake,” said Robikin. 

Robikin gave the Marriage Law, Hajj Law, and even the Traffic Law as examples. They all reflect sharia values. “There are five objectives of the Sharia law, among others, to ensure human safety. The Traffic Law is clearly aimed at preventing traffic accidents, which have the potential to harm and even kill people. The Criminal Code prohibits aggravated theft and so on. This is also sharia,” Robikin stressed. 

Gender equality 

CSIS researcher Arya Fernandes is of the view that the 2020 Pilkada, held on December 9, went well. The focus going forward is on local governance and leadership of the victors. As regions become more urbanized, strong leadership from the regional head are increasingly required to boost local development. “Maybe there should be financial incentives for regional heads with the best achievement in human development index and budget absorption,” he said. Furthermore, Arya noted the extreme political fragmentation which made it difficult for coalitions to take place. “The coalition is very pragmatic, easily abandoned, based on minimal nominations, with a high barrier to entry, which increases the level of political competition in the regions. In the end it can affect the quality of elected regional heads,” he added. 

Meanwhile, on the plan to finalize the general election bill, Titi Anggraini of the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem) Advisory Board hopes that 2021 will see the deliberation of the bill in a truly democratic sense, in terms of process and substance. “This could be an entry point to reform the political system and elections so that it is corruption-free, inclusive, program- oriented and strong and democratic political parties,” she said. 

Titi also highlighted the normalization of the 2024 Pilkada schedule which may cause electoral chaos. “The technical burden is very heavy. In 2022 and 2023 there is still Pilkada and in 2027 there is nationwide simultaneous Pilkada,” she explained. Titi also highlighted gender equality, especially the percentage of women in parliament, which is still 20% – against an ideal of 30%. Titi hopes that in the future women’s representation in parliament can reach 30%. Of all parties, only NasDem has women’s representation up to 30%. “In the future, I hope that women candidates on top of the ticket can achieve at least 30% of the electoral districts.” (dan)