Perludem: “Raising the parliamentary threshold is a distortion of the people’s sovereignty”

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Executive Director of the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perkumpulan untuk Pemilu dan Demokrasi – “Perludem”) Titi Anggraini states that the raising of a parliamentary threshold represents a deviation from democracy. (Photo: Prive. Doc)

IO, Jakarta – The rumors of the parliamentary threshold being raised from 4% to 5% has aroused many pros and cons among politicians. This is only natural, because if the parliamentary threshold is increased, the number of parties represented in the Parliament becomes even fewer, as only parties earning 5% of votes or more can enter the Parliament. This plan was first discussed in the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan – “PDIP”)’s National Work Meeting. In fact, the Party’s Central Leadership Council (Dewan Pimpinan Pusat – “DPP”) and PDIP Faction in the House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat – “DPR”) suggest that Electoral Laws should be revised. Furthermore, the Party also requests that the revision includes the change of electoral system into a closed proportional system.

PDIP General Secretary Hasto Krisyanto further stated that the Party also requests that parliamentary threshold be revised so that the restrictions are different for each level, i.e. the threshold for the DPR RI is to be set at 5%, for the Provincial Regional House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Daerah – “DPRD”) at 4%, and Regency/Municipal DPRD at 3%. “We request the change of district magnitude as well (3-10 seats for the Provincial, Regency, and Municipal DPRD; and 3-8 seats for DPR RI) and to moderate the vote-to-seat conversion ratio using the Sainte Laguë modification system. This would generate effective presidentialism and government, strengthen and simplify the party system, and economize on the costs of elections,” he said.

Executive Director of the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perkumpulan untuk Pemilu dan Demokrasi – “Perludem”) Titi Anggraini stated that the raising of a parliamentary threshold represents a deviation from democracy. Its implementation implies that we no longer care about the freedom of the people to choose. “The higher the parliamentary threshold is raised, the more the level of the people’s sovereignty is distorted,” she said during the launching of the book Evaluasi Pemilu Serentak 2019 (“Evaluating Simultaneous Elections”) held at D’Hotel on Sunday (02/02/2020).

Titi does not deny that we have a large number of political parties in the Parliament. However, raising the parliamentary threshold is not the proper solution to get the number of parties trimmed down. Furthermore, implementing a parliamentary threshold so far does not cause the reduction of the number of political parties. Instead of raising the parliamentary threshold, the number of seats obtained from votes should be reduced. “Perludem has a strong stance over this: raising the parliamentary threshold is not an option,” she reiterated.

Similarly, University of Indonesia political analyst Syahrul Hidayat points out that if the parliamentary threshold is raised, there will be fewer parties in the Parliament. However, as Indonesia’s Legislative Elections are held using a proportional parliamentary system, i.e. accommodating party votes into the parliament, the current threshold is already sufficiently proportional. However, if the purpose of raising parliamentary threshold is to get the support of more than 50% of parliamentary votes, reducing the number of existing parties is also a good way to prevent deadlocks in parliamentary discussions. “But the question is, no matter what parliamentary threshold is set, “Are the parties ready to satisfy the requirement of getting the people’s votes?” I think big parties would blithely agree to the suggestion, but small parties with less than 7% votes would be nervous,” he said.

The Functional Group (Golongan Karya – “Golkar”) Party also believes that the parliamentary threshold should be raised. DPP Golkar’s Vice General Chairman Bambang Soesatyo stated that a parliamentary threshold should really be raised in order to reduce the number of parties in the Parliament. “We don’t want the overflow of parties in the Parliament to continue,” he said at the Parliamentary Complex in Jakarta. “Not just 5%, I would even recommend raising the threshold up to 6%-7%.”

Similarly, the Prosperous Justice Party (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera – “PKS”) approves the raising of parliamentary threshold to 7%. “We naturally appreciate PDIP’s suggestion. As PKS is in a more advanced position, we hope for a raise to 7%. However, we agree with PDIP that Regency/Municipal and Provincial 2 and 3%,” said Mardani Ali Sera.

The Democrat Party looks unfavorably at the plan to raise the parliamentary threshold. DPP Democrat Party’s Vice General Chairman Syarief Hasan believes that the current threshold is already at a workable level. In fact, it has succeeded in keeping parties that previously made it to Senayan from returning. He is concerned that instead of improving the quality of our democracy, raising the threshold further would make it hard for many parties to achieve. “In fact, it is quite hard for many parties to secure 5% of the vote,” he said.

The same concern was expressed by United Development Party (Partai Persatuan Pembangunan – “PPP”). PPP Vice General Chairman Arwani Thomafi states that raising the threshold would cause even more of the people’s votes in the elections to become lost, as the elected parties fail to achieve the required parliamentary threshold. The accumulated votes from the seven political parties who failed to enter the Parliament in the past election were 13.59 million votes. “It is important for us to notice when we are thinking of raising the bar,” he said.

Another item that PDIP requires to be reformed is the use of a closed proportional system in the Legislative Elections. This option only allows voters to vote for a party, but not for legislative candidates themselves. The system was last used in 2004. However, the People’s Conscience (Hati Nurani Rakyat – “Hanura”) Party refused this suggestion. DPP Hanura Chairman Inas Nasrullah refused the plan to revise Electoral Laws to raise the parliamentary threshold to 5%. He stated that this is a mark of PDIP’s arrogance, as a party who made it into the DPR, and an effort to prevent smaller parties to get to Senayan. “Don’t be so arrogant as a big party. Just because you made it to Senayan, you try to prevent smaller parties from also entering by raising the threshold to 5%,” Inas stated to the press on 14/01/2020. “The reduction of the number of political parties in DPR helps the generation of oligarchy. The revision of the Electoral Law is an effort by big parties to seal people’s aspirations and steal their votes.” (Dan)