Raise political party subsidy to maintain party integrity

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The Government has increased its political party budget to IDR 1,000.00 per vote obtained in the latest election at the House of Representatives (DPR) level and IDR 1,500.00 per vote obtained in the latest election at the Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) level in 2018. (Photo: DMAGZ)

IO – Transactional politics is mostly unavoidable in any country’s politics. After all, any Regional Candidate Head will need to spend a lot of money in legitimate fees and expenditures in order to participate successfully in political contests. Such expenses do not include the “contributions” that these Candidate Heads must provide to political parties in order to get the party’s support as their political vehicles. Even though many parties claim that they do not ask for contributions and deny all allegations of transactional politics, former Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs Rizal Ramli stated that a party demanded IDR 300 billion from him if he wants their support as a Presidential Candidate back in 2009. Due to the huge amounts of money a Regional Candidate Head must spend, it is not surprising that 545 corruptors, or 61% of the those arrested by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) were members of the House of Representatives (DPR), members of provincial, regency, and municipal Regional House of Representatives (DPRD), and Regional Heads supported by political parties. 

In the spirit of reducing the incidence of party-based political transactions and upholding the integrity of political parties, a number of figures from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia – “LIPI”) and the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) recommend that the Government boost political party subsidies, or even fund political parties entirely. 

As per Government Regulation Number 1 of 2018, the Government has increased the amount of political party subsidies to IDR 1,000.00 per valid vote obtained in the latest election at DPR level and IDR 1,500.00 per valid vote obtained in the latest election at DPRD level. Vice Chairman of the KPK Saut Situmorang said that the Government should raise the amount that was already elevated two years ago, as it is in accordance with a provision of the Constitution of 1945 that states that the President, or the State Administration, is to be nominated by political parties. 

The suggestion to raise the amount of political party subsidy seems to be welcomed by many. It is predicted that with financial concerns out of the way, political party cadres will be able to focus on thinking about their constituents. “It would cover things such as the pensions for party cadres. We really don’t want people to be neglected after retirement, then see them just hanging around with nothing to do. Is a pension necessary? I’d say ‘Yes’. Do we have the money? This nation has a lot of money, but it is badly managed. It’s all about financial management. Naturally, we need to cut taxes and expenditures, get rid of inefficient and unimportant expenses,” he said. 

Recently, there were plans to set aside large funds to finance political parties, for example up to IDR 50 trillion a year. This amount seems fantastical at first, but it is actually equal to the amount of the State’s monies lost through misuse of National Budget and Regional Budget a year (totaling up to 20% of the National Budget). With this amount, political parties can obtain at least IDR 250,000.00 per valid national vote, with the accumulated value calculated proportionally according to the number of votes obtained at the latest Legislative Elections. This amount is enough to allow political parties to finance a significant part of its needs, including wages, office expenditures, and expert staff fees, meeting and convention costs, and even electoral expenditures. With such a large amount provided to them, political parties can be prohibited from requesting “contributions” from Legislative Candidates or Regional Head Candidates, or from closing political deals with anyone. In this way, political party recruitment and political education processes can be implemented properly, i.e. focused on capacity and integrity. 

On the other hand, political parties must also implement good governance, by being transparent and accountable in their financial management. Heavy sanctions await all violators, especially if they are proven to be involved in corruption: administrative sanctions, suspensions, and even disbandment of the related political party. 

Trisakti University Jakarta’s money laundering crime expert, Yenti Garnasih, stated that the rife incidence of political practitioners who getting tangled up in corruption is because Indonesia’s political system still contains room for corruption practices. It all begins from the moment a person joins a political party, whether through Regional Head Elections, Legislative Elections, or Presidential Elections. More room for corruption is available when a person wants to submit themselves as a State Administrator Candidate, whether as a Regional Head or a member of the Legislative. 

All candidates must prepare “political contributions” to the parties. This is actually a corrupt practice: Candidates who pay them out to get party support are actually guilty of bribery, while the party is guilty of extortion. The huge amount of authority given to political parties also allows and generates political corruption. “Political parties are the only organizations that can propose candidates for positions as a Regional Head, a member of the Legislative, or even president. In other words, all Regional Heads and Legislators come from political parties. Consequently, these legislators would not control the excesses of Regional Heads, because they all originate from the same political parties,” he said. (dan)