Mahfud MD: Open proportional electoral system only favors popular candidates

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Mahfud M. D., Chairman of the Association of Islamic College Students Alumni Corps (Korps Alumni Himpunan Mahasiswa Islam – “KAHMI”). (photo: Prive. Doc)

IO, Malang – Mahfud M. D., Chairman of the Association of Islamic College Students Alumni Corps (Korps Alumni Himpunan Mahasiswa Islam – “KAHMI”) of the National Assembly Council of Experts, has suggested that a closed proportional system be reinstated for election to the House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat – “DPR”), instead of the current open proportional system.

Mahfud believes that the implementation of the open proportional system raises many troubling issues. Other than helping to boost “money politics” transactions, this system is only beneficial for popular candidates. “It turns out that the open proportional system causes issues in the field. For example, some candidates are popular even though their ideology is not harmonious with that of their Party,” he complained in a speech delivered during the KAHMI Brawijaya Region Halal bi Halal (religious and social gathering) held in Malang on Sunday (30/06/2019).

He further referred to the example of the high number of entertainers and artists becoming candidates for legislative bodies. As they are already well-known, these artists and entertainers may have a greater potential of pushing aside candidates who were originally party cadres. “In other words, those who have fought their way up from the bottom are swept aside by these artists whom their parties actually recruited deliberately,” Mahmud said. He then stated that this phenomenon would tend to impair the party’s struggles, because the representatives who make it through to the Parliament do not understand their ideology. “The essence of the struggle would then be dissipated in such a case. Then I thought harder and the idea of returning to the closed proportional system came to me,” he said.

Mahfud is fully aware that the closed proportional system also has its weaknesses, but it would at least provide an opportunity for parties to determine which of their cadres will be put forward for election to the Parliament, since the nomination of candidates would be carried out using priority numbers set by the Party. “There’s always a positive and negative side to everything. If we use the closed proportional system, corruption is generally done wholesale from a group of people to party chairmen. However, bribery in the open proportional system is made in retail – monies are given to receivers in the lower classes,” he said. “They both have their weaknesses and bad sides. But the most important thing is to find and get quality cadres, and this method is the lesser of two evils.”

Mahfud closed by saying that KAHMI will be drafting an academic thesis on this issue and submit it as a proposal to the Government. (dsy)