Open-List System Promotes Loyalty to Party and Constituents

The material judicial review hearing of the Election Law No. 7 of 2017, Thursday (3/16/2023). Photo by MKRI/Panji.

Thursday, March 16, 2023 | 14:07 WIB

JAKARTA (MKRI) — In the Indonesian electoral system, especially for the nomination of legislative members, be it the DPR (House of Representatives) and the Provincial/Regency/City DPRD (Regional Legislative Council), the full authority for the nomination is one hundred percent political. Thus, it is the political parties that have full authority to determine whether a legislative candidate can be nominated or not.

The Petitioners’ reasoning that states that in an open-list proportional system those nominated are popular people who have no experience in political party should instead be asked to their political party. They should question why the party nominated popular people and did not prioritize cadres who had decades of experience in managing the party.

“The open-list proportional election system will encourage legislative candidates to be loyal to the two main actors in the process of elections: political parties as the authority that will nominate lawmakers, then voters as the main actor who will determine whether a legislative candidate can be elected or not, or can be elected as a member of the House or not.”

The statement was made by Fadli Ramadhanil, legal counsel of the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem), a Relevant Party for case No. 114/PUU-XX/2022, at the judicial review hearing of Article 168 of Law No. 7 of 2017 on General Elections on Thursday, March 16, 2023 in the Constitutional Court’s (MK) plenary courtroom before Chief Justice Anwar Usman and the other eight constitutional justices. The hearing presented Perludem and Jansen Sitindaon as Relevant Parties.

Fadli further said that the Petitioners’ argument that the open-list proportional system has made legislative members elected and seated in representative institutions work for themselves and no longer in accordance with political parties was inaccurate because legislatures were part of a political party and would not work for themselves. In practice, they would always work in accordance with the party’s orders. Therefore, in representative institutions there are factions whose main task and function is to unite and guide legislators in carrying out representative duties.

“It is also important for the Petitioners to recall that there are legal instruments that have protected political parties from the practice legislators working for themselves, i.e. interim replacement. Political parties have full authority after undergoing a series of internal proces, to replace legislative candidates who no longer work for its interests but their own,” he explained. 

Emotional Bond between MPs and Voters

Democratic Party politician Jansen Sitindaon said that the Petitioners argued that the costly elections caused elected MPs commit corruption. This corrupt behavior of the political elite has nothing to do with the election system, he argued.

“Whatever the system is for elections, open or closed, there will be money politics,” he said.

He explained that money politics is a crime. Candidates can be disqualified if proven to have used money to get votes.

Furthermore, Jansen responded to the Petitioners’ argument that the open-list system was a waste of the state budget. He said it showed the Petitioners’ ignorance of the cost of elections. However, it is necessary for accountable and democratic representation. MPs are responsible for getting voters and taking care of their constituents. Otherwise, they would not be reelected. “In contrast to the closed-list proportional system, which caused no [emotional] connection between MPs and their voters,” Jansen continued.

He hoped that in the future Indonesia can use the district system as adopted by other countries. “So, the electoral district is very small, only one electoral district with an allocation of one seat,” he stressed. 

Also read:

Open Proportional System in Election Challenged

Party Members Affirm Background of Petition on Election Law

Open-List Proportional System Allows Freedom to Choose Representatives

Relevant Party Explains Proportional System in Election

Garuda, Nasdem Support Open-List Proportional System

PKS, PSI Show Support for Open-List Proportional System

Debates on Open-List Proportional Election System

The Petitioners challenge Article 168 paragraph (2), Article 342 paragraph (2), Article 353 paragraph (1) letter b, Article 386 paragraph (2) letter b, Article 420 letters c and d, Article 422, Article 424 paragraph (2), and Article 426 paragraph (3) of the Election Law.

At the preliminary hearing on Wednesday, November 23, 2022, the Petitioners argued that the norms, relating to the proportional representation based on majority votes has been misused by popular pragmatic electoral candidates without ideological connection, political party affiliation, and experience in managing any political party organization or socio-politics-based organizations. As a result, when elected as members of the House of Representatives (DPR) or the Regional Legislative Council (DPRD), they tend to act for their own interest instead of representing their part. As such, there should be a party authority that determines who is eligible to become a party representative in parliament after attending political training.

In addition, the Petitioners asserted, the a quo articles have cultivated individualism among politicians, resulting in internal conflicts within the parties. This is because the proportional representation is seen to have resulted in political liberalism or free competition that prioritizes individual victory in elections. This competition should instead exist among political parties because election participants are affiliated with political parties, not individuals, as stated in Article 22E paragraph (3) of the 1945 Constitution.

The Petitioners were harmed because these articles regulated the system for determining elected candidates based on the majority votes because it had made elections costs excessive and led to complex issues, such as unhealthy competition between candidates because it encourages candidates to commit fraud by bribing election organizers. Therefore, he added, if those articles were annulled, it would reduce vote buying and lead to clean, honest, and fair elections. In addition, the proportional representation based on majority votes is costly and hurt the state budget, for example for the printing of ballots for the election of the House, provincial and regency/city DPRD. They also requested in their petitum that the Court declare the word ‘open’ in Article 168 paragraph (2) of the Election Law unconstitutional and not legally binding.  

Author       : Utami Argawati
Editor        :
Nur R.
PR            : Tiara Agustina
Translator  : Yuniar Widiastuti (NL)

Translation uploaded on 3/16/2023 15:45 WIB

Disclaimer: The original version of the news is in Indonesian. In case of any differences between the English and the Indonesian versions, the Indonesian version will prevail.

Thursday, March 16, 2023 | 14:07 WIB 217
  • Budi Wibowo Halim (Pemohon) menyampaikan pokok-pokok perbaikan atas permohonan Perkara Nomor 117/PUU-XXI/2023. Foto Humas/Ifa

    Image 1
  • Majelis Sidang Panel yang di ketuai oleh Hakim Konstitusi Enny Nurbaningsih. Foto Humas/Fauzan

    Image 2