SP/Robertus Wardi & Markus Junianto Sihaloho
The Golkar Party on Friday became the first major party to register with the General Elections Commission following a ruling by the Constitutional Court requiring all parties, old and new, to be verified by the election body.
Article 8 of the Legislative Elections Law states that verification is mandatory for both political parties that did not meet the previous election’s legislative threshold and for new parties as well.
Only nine parties, including Golkar, passed the legislative threshold of 2.5 percent in the last elections, in 2009.
However, the Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday that verification would be required of all political parties — both existing parties that have or don’t have seats in the House of Representatives as well as new parties.
It annulled Article 8 due to its application of different requirements for different political parties to take part in elections.
“It is not fair if political parties that participated in the 2009 elections do not need to be verified again for the 2014 elections if new political parties are obliged to do so,” Judge Fadlil Sumadi said.
Golkar officials said after filing documents with the General Elections Commission (KPU) that the party was ready to be verified.
“We have prepared all the documents and our regional branches will be ready to host KPU’s visit,” said Theo L. Sambuaga, Golkar’s deputy chairman.
Another Golkar official, Hajriyanto Thohari, said the party was disappointed with the court ruling because it meant the party and the KPU would be burdened with extra work.
“The real question is whether the KPU is ready for the workload as there are so many parties to be verified,” he said. “How can a party like Golkar need to be verified, whether it has enough branches, when we have members all over the country?”
Separately, the up-and-coming National Democrat (NasDem) Party welcomed the court’s decision, saying it would reduce the number of parties taking part in the 2014 elections.
“I predict that there will be only 15 parties in the House. NasDem will be at number 10,” said Ahmad Rofik, the party’s secretary general.
Besides ruling that all parties need verification, the Constitutional Court also revised Article 208 of the law regarding the legislative threshold. While lawmakers believed that the article could be applied to legislative elections at all levels, the court deemed it would not be fair for regional elections.
The legislative threshold in the 2009 elections was set at 2.5 percent, while for the 2014 elections it is 3.5 percent of the total national votes. The Constitutional Court ruled that the 3.5 percent legislative threshold should be applied to national elections only.
The requirements to run in the 2014 elections are difficult to fulfill. Parties must have at least 1,000 members spread throughout the country’s 33 provinces. They must have at least 30 registered members in each province, and it is also necessary for them to maintain permanent offices and members in 75 percent of all districts and half of all subdistricts.
Small political parties, including Yusril Ihza Mahendra’s Crescent Star Party (PBB) and the Prosperous Peace Party (PDS), filed a judicial review with the court in hopes that the court would annul the requirement for verification, making it easier for small parties to take part in elections. The court did not invalidate the verification process.
The faction head and deputy chairman of the United Development Party (PPP), Hazrul Azwar, said he was dismayed with the decision by the Constitutional Court.