With a 4% “freedom threshold”, a party abandons ideology

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(photo: Prive. Doc)

IO, Jakarta –The University of Indonesia Alumni Association and the Faculty of Law Chapter (ILUNI FHUI), in cooperation with The Faculty of Law of The University of Indonesia Scientific Studies Institute (LK2 FHUI) held a Scientific Analysis Group Discussion called “Quo Vadis Legislative Election”, on the requirement of a 4% Parliamentary Threshold. This is codified in Law Number 7 of 2017, “Concerning General Elections”; the event was hosted at the Faculty of Law of the University of Indonesia’s Djokosoetono Convention Center, on Monday (6/24/2019). Ashoya Ratam, Chairperson of ILUNI FHUI, stated that the setting of a threshold was intended to minimize the number of political parties in the Parliament, to expedite effective decision-making. The agreed threshold and its pros and cons were the subject of this discussion.

Executive Director of the Association for Elections (Perludem) Titi Anggraini complained that the imposition of a 4% threshold was clearly ineffective, and resulted in wasted votes. In the 2019 Election, seven political parties failed to pass the 4% threshold, signifying that citizens who chosen the candidates of the failing political parties had in fact seen their votes wasted. “As a matter of fact they counted 13,594,842 votes wasted in the 2019 Election,” she declared.

Titi pointed out that 13,594,842 wasted votes is nearly equal to the total number of voters in Australia. Therefore, Titi encourages a move to reduce the number of political parties by prioritizing principles of proportionality; she claims this can be achieved through a variety of technical manipulations of the electoral system, such as minimizing the number of electoral areas. By way of illustration she pointed out that the highest threshold applied in Turkey is 10%, Croatia 5%, and Argentina, the lowest, is just 3%. “The general threshold is between 3% -5%,” she added.

Meanwhile, the Secretary General of The National Mandate Party Mohammad Eddy Dwiyanto Soeparno opined that a political party should not be burdened with the target of having to pass a threshold raised from 3.5% to 4%; that results in their focusing more on recruiting popular cadres who can attract the people’s votes, instead of recruiting more qualified political party cadres. “Political parties continue to focus on dynasties of power, but lack programs and new ideas. Politics of identity have also become prominent, due to the lack of programs offered. Pragmatism amongst voter tends to make elections unattractive,” he added.

Fitra Arsil, Chairperson of The Faculty of Law of The University of Indonesia’s Constitutional Law Studies Division, explained that the higher parliamentary threshold tends to cause political parties to abandon their ideology, because they are desperate to attract all types of voters. A multiparty system is a necessity in Indonesia; he warned against shrinking the number of political parties in Indonesia, because this would be contrary to the reality of a very diverse Indonesian society. Restrictions to reduce the number of political parties in Indonesia have been carried out in stages, such as requirements to set up a new political party, requirements for political parties to compete in the general elections, the general election threshold and the parliamentary threshold.

“All such restrictions do not in fact lead to the conclusion that Indonesia must only have a small number of political parties. This threshold debate is always about debating numbers without any explanation or rationalization of such numbers. Stop this unproductive debate. It is better to talk about the effective number of political parties (ENPP) which influence the principal actors involved in decision-making in the Parliament, not simply focusing on cutting back on the number of political parties,” he warned. (Dan)