Political Pragmatism Threatens Election Quality
The discussion on the Bill on the Implementation of General Elections (Bill of Election) by the DPR and the government is quite tough. Dragging the interests of political parties makes the settlement slip away from the target. This condition is feared to disrupt the preparation phase of the 2019 General Election which must be conducted by the General Election Commission (KPU).
KPU has set a schedule for the election of legislative members and presidential election held April 17, 2019. Thus, the remaining 22 months to prepare everything. However, the regulation on which the legal basis of the whole stage of electoral implementation has not been completed. As a result, the KPU has not been able to take any steps. The reason, every stage and also derivative rules that will be made KPU must refer to the Election Law.
One important step that must be done immediately is the verification of political parties participating in the 2019 General Elections. How the technical and administrative mechanisms to verify the old political parties and political parties newcomers, cannot be formulated KPU, because they still have to wait for the completion of the discussion of Election Bill.
The late completion of the Bill of Elections because until now there are still five crucial issues that cannot be agreed on fractions in the House and government. The five crucial issues are the electoral system, the method of converting votes into seats in the legislature, allocating the number of seats per district or district magnitude, determining the threshold of vote acquisition by political parties to obtain parliamentary threshold (PT), as well as Concerning the terms of the threshold of the vote of political parties to be able to submit a presidential threshold (Pres-T). The political stance of the factions and the government is generally divided. One of the hot issues expected to be tough is a matter of whether or not the Pres-T requirement is necessary. The enforcement of the Pres-T requirement is not easy in the 2019 presidential election. The presidential election is held simultaneously with the election of legislative candidates. Unlike the previous elections (Election 2014), where the presidential election was held three months post-election, the provisions of the Pres-T can be applied with reference to the results of the dispute. In the 2014 presidential election, the candidate-presidential candidate can only be submitted by a political party or a coalition of political parties that receive at least 25% of the votes in the election, or who obtain at least 20% of seats in the DPR. The juxtaposition of Presidential Election and Legislative Election makes it difficult to make reference to the threshold. Using the 2014 Legislative Election results, although it can be done, should be recognized quite weakly. Because, within five years of public support to political parties are very dynamic. It could be a political party that gained the support of the majority of the public at that time, now began eroded. Similarly, there is the possibility of popular support for other political parties are actually enlarged.
This is the reason why political parties are built that require no Pres-T condition. Those who are in this camp are the new political parties and political parties that during Pileg 2014 then the acquisition of votes is small, making it impossible to become a coalition leader. If the Pres-T is not enforced, the parties have the opportunity to submit a presidential candidate. However, this is precisely the main weakness if Pres-T is abolished. Because, there is the possibility of elected candidates do not get adequate support in parliament, because the political party is not able to capture the most votes in pileg. The most extreme scenario, the elected president candidate, has no representative in parliament because the vote does not meet the parliamentary threshold. A president who does not have real political support in the House of Representatives, is feared will face many obstacles from parliament. If this happens, the presidential system mandated by the Constitution will not materialize, as the executive tends to be under legislative pressure. Here is the main weakness of the absence of the Pres-T requirement. The existence of this kind of pragmatism makes the deliberations of the Election Law Bill. Each political party fights for its own interests, which leads to power politics. This pragmatic attitude sacrificed the interests of the whole nation. This caused the KPU to lose time to prepare all the election stages, such as formulating KPU regulations, socialization of rules, recruitment of executive staff, and other technical and administrative aspects. Can be imagined with the remaining time, KPU must work marathon. This certainly affects the quality of KPU work. In the end, regulatory delays will also have an impact on the quality of the election. Though the election is a fundamental process to determine the course of the nation and the country in the future. Another thing that is not less important, lest regulation be made to simply accommodate the pragmatic interests of political parties and power-hungry political elites. Electoral regulations should promote healthy democratic practices, build positive political participation, and be able to produce representatives of the people and national leaders who serve national interests. All that can only happen if the political elite and the representatives of the people think as statesmen.
*) Datuak Tjumano, Political observer at LSISI Jakarta