Outdated Data Blamed for Indonesian Election Law Problems

By webadmin on 03:15 pm Apr 23, 2012
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Ezra Sihite

Critics have panned the House of Representatives’ new seat allocation, saying it does not properly represent constituents as the House’s population data is not valid and the allocation follows old regulations.

“This law does not ensure that constituents receive fair representation,” August Mellaz, an election observer, said at a discussion of the Elections Law in Cikini, Central Jakarta, on Sunday.

The law, passed earlier this month, does not differ much from its 2008 predecessor.

At the forum, the seating allocation was criticized because it was not based on population data from the latest census.

August said that this led to certain provinces — such as South Sulawesi, West Sumatra and Aceh — receiving a disproportionately high number of representatives in the House, while provinces like Riau, Riau Islands and West Java received a lesser share.

“The absence of reliable population data to allocate seats in the House leads me to conclude that this is based on phantom data,” he said.

Another election observer, Didik Supriyanto, said the House was advised four months ago to use population data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), but chose to revert to the data used in the older law.

“I was shocked to find that the data cited in the law was outdated,” he said. “By allocating 560 seats in the House to the provinces based on old data, provinces will not be fairly represented.”

The law itself has proven controversial on several grounds.

The National Democrat Party filed a motion last Thursday asking the Constitutional Court to review the recently passed Elections Law, following the lead of several small parties.

The NasDem party said it filed a motion against Article 8.1 of the law because it was discriminatory against new parties.

The article says that political parties qualified to run in the 2009 election that garnered at least 2.5 percent of the national vote can stand in the 2014 election without a verification process.

Based on the article, the nine parties now holding seats in the House can automatically join the race.

A group of 22 small political parties have also filed a similar motion with the court.

Led by former Justice Minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra, they challenged not just the verification exemption, but also the legislative threshold that requires parties to achieve a 3.5 percent nationwide vote in order to claim seats in the House. The parties argued that it would potentially render the votes of millions of people meaningless.

The House earlier this month passed the Elections Law, which set the threshold at 3.5 percent — up from 2.5 percent in the previous election — and continued the open electoral system that allows voters to choose individual candidates rather than just parties and maintained the method for allocating votes among electoral districts.

The next legislative elections are scheduled for 2014.


Additional reporting by Agus Triyono