Perludem demands Government separate national and local elections

The Constitution Court holds a follow-up hearing for the demand to redesign Simultaneous Elections in the Constitution Court Rooms, Jakarta, on Monday (13/01/2020). (Photo: IO/Rayi Gigih)

IO, Jakarta – The Constitution Court is holding a follow-up hearing for the demand to redesign Simultaneous Elections in the Constitution Court Rooms, Jakarta, on Monday (13/01/2020). The Hearing was chaired directly by the Chairman of the Constitution Court, Anwar Usman, who heard the entire testimony of the Petitioner’s expert witnesses, alongside the entire Constitution Court Panel of Judges. The Petitioner in this case was the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perkumpulan untuk Pemilihan Umum dan Demokrasi – “Perludem”).

Perludem’s two expert witnesses are former Perludem Chairman Didik Supriyanto, and Lecturer of Andalas University’s Faculty of Law Khairul Fahmi. The Hearing was attended by the officers of the Election Commission of the Republic of Indonesia (Komisi Pemilihan Umum Republik Indonesia – “KPU RI”) as Co-Respondent: KPU RI Chairman Arief Budiman, along with four other KPU RI Commissioners: Hasyim Ashari, Evi Novida Ginting Manik, Viryan Aziz, and Pramono Ubaid Thantowi. Also present were the Petitioner, the legal counsel of the President of RI, and the legal counsel of the House of Repre­sentatives (“DPR”).

The issue, recorded as Case Number 55/PUU-XVII/2019, is related to the contents of Law Number 7 of 2017 concerning the Elections (“Elections Law”) and Law Number 10 of 2016 concerning the Second Amendment to Law Number 1 of 2015 concerning the Enactment of Regional Regulation in lieu of Law Number 1 of 2014 concerning the Election of Governors, Regents, and Mayors into Law being materially tested at the Constitution Court (“Regional Elections Law”). Perludem, as Petitioner stated that Article 167 Paragraph (3) and Article 347 Paragraph (1) of Elections Law; as well as Article 3 Paragraph (1), Article 201 Paragraph (7), and Article 201 Paragraph (9) of Regional Elections Law, are in violation of Article 22E Paragraph (2) of Constitution of 1945. Arjuna Electoral Monitor and several other Petitioners argue that according to empirical facts, the 2019 Simultaneous Elections resulted in considerable detriment among electoral organizers.

In a previous hearing, held in September last year, the Constitution Court heard out the Petition submitted by the Petitioner, Perludem, which elaborated on violations of law as explained above. Fadli Ramadhanil, Perludem’s legal counsel, stated that the Simultaneous Elections system using five ballot boxes does not conform to the principles of Elections in our country, i.e. direct, public, free, confidential, honest, and fair. Furthermore, the use of five ballot boxes all on the same day violates the principle of democratic elections, as expressed in Article 22E Paragraph (2) of the Constitution of 1945.

Expert Witness Khairul Fahmi, who was present through teleconference, stated that Simultaneous Elections 2019 contains many problems that must be resolved. The problems are not just related to the management of electoral execution, but also to the substance of the Election itself: the purity of citizens’ voting rights. “After the 2019 Elections was completed, we note that the Simultaneous Elections had many serious issues,” he said. “It includes everything from the issue of logistics to the high number of invalid vote papers, as well as the high death toll among Voting Organizers’ Group (Kelompok Penyelenggara Pemungutan Suara – “KPPS”) during the Elections, at 550 fatalities. These criticisms are caused by real issues in the 2019 Elections, as the organizers have shouldered a great managerial burden,” he said.

Khairul stated that the purpose of the Simultaneous Elections is to strengthen our presidential system. However, the simultaneousness of the elections generates sub-optimal results. “We need to correct the design for the simultaneousness of the Elections. It should be enough if we revise the interpretation of Article 22 Paragraph 2 while maintaining and strengthening the Constitution Court’s argumentation that Presidential Elections and Legislative Elections are to be held at the same time, in order to strengthen the existing presidential system,” he said.

However, the holding of Regional Legislative Elections for membership in the Provincial, Regency, and Municipal Regional Houses of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Daerah – “DPRD”) at the same time as the National Elections for DPR membership alone would obstruct the importance of regional issues during Elections, let alone having Legislative Elections held at the same time as the Presidential Elections. Regional issues are drowned under the riotous interests of the national agenda brought up by the Presidential Elections and Legislative Elections. “The design for DPRD membership election should also be created in such a way that it strengthens DPRD’s role in regional autonomy. One of the ways this is possible is by having Legislative Elections for DPRD distinct from national Legislative and Executive Elections,” he said.

The scheme to separate National Elections from Local Elections was also proposed by the Indonesian Association of Political Sciences (Asosiasi Ilmu Politik Indonesia – “AIPI”). Chairman of AIPI’s Guidance Council, Syamsuddin Haris, stated that National Simultaneous Elections should include Presidential Elections and elections for DPR and Regional Representative Council (Dewan Pertimbangan Daerah – “DPD”) memberships. Local Simultaneous Elections for electing regional heads and DPRD members, whether for Provincial, Regency, or Municipal DPRD, should be held 30 months after the National Simultaneous Elections. “Logically, Regional Elections are part of Local Simultaneous Elections. As we have stated before the Constitution Court, Regional Elections are also Elections,” Haris declared in December last year.

Comprehensive Evaluation
Meanwhile, former Perludem Chairman Didik Supriyanto, in his capacity as the Petitioner’s expert witness, stated in his testimony that Simultaneous Elections enforce a homogenous Government because political parties are forced to coalesce before the Elections. “Simultaneous Elections caused multiple effects in the tendency of presidential voters and presidential interests to affect the election and electability of parliament members. The election of Presidential Candidate A affects the electability of parliamentary member candidates from Presidential Candidate A’s political party or party coalition,” he said as quoted from the Constitution Court’s official website.

According to Didik, ineffective Government during President SBY’s term was caused by the separation between Presidential Elections and Legislative Elections, which generated Constitution Court Judgement Number 14/PUU-XI/2013. “The Judgement stated that the separation between Legislative Elections and Presidential Elections is unconstitutional. The Constitution Court ordered that the two election be held simultaneously in 2019, in order to strengthen the presidential system,” he said.

Didik further stated that in practice, Simultaneous Elections 2019 only included the Presidential Elections and Legislative Elections, and did not include Regional Head Elections. This caused a rift between the Provincial Government and the Regency/Municipal Government. “Taking lessons from the 2019 Elections, the solution for this rift is to include the Regional Head Elections for Governors, Regents, and Mayors. Therefore, Total National Simultaneous Elections are necessary,” he said.

Meanwhile, KPU Chairman in the 2004-2007 Term Ramlan Surbakti highlights the large number of problems that occurred during vote-counting and creation of documentary protocols, which resulted in a waste of human resources and funds. “Voting and vote counting must be performed transparently, witnessed by witnesses, monitors, monitoring agencies, and all citizens who were present outside of the Voting Booths. This is something we need to ensure,” he said. (Dan)