In the light of the recent discussion on the legal requirement for political party to be able to participate in election that will be contained in the new Elections Law Bill, we would like to provide a glimpse of comparison between requirements implemented in the previous national elections (1999, 2004, 2009, and 2014). The comparison shows that the requirement imposed in 1999 is the loosest requirement compared to the more recent elections. In fact, the requirement is getting stricter in every election.
The Election of 1999
The requirement for political party in 1999 was very loose. This is because the election was intended to further the embodiment of “the Reformation” spirit that seeks to provide total freedom to members of the society to contribute and participate in the political process.
The requirement for political party was contained in Law No.2/1999, and it was very simple. In order to establish a political party, a group of minimum of fifty people shall put Pancasila as their basic ideology; the vision, mission, the platform of the party shall not contradict Pancasila; they should implement an open-membership; and they shall not utilize any name, symbol, and flag design similar with ones use by other country, they shall not use the Red and White flag of Indonesia, person’s name and picture, and the symbol that has been used by other political party.
The administrative requirement was not that hard either. Article 82 of the Law No.3/1999 states that any political party only need to establish branch office in at least one-third of the total province in Indonesia and in at least half of the total regency/municipality in Indonesia.
In his article titled “Don’t be Irritated If Your Political Party is Not Qualified”, Sidik Pramono says that the officials responsible to conduct site visit were only verify political parties’ office branch in three local areas level II (regency/municipality) in every province picked as a sample.
Out of 150 political parties established during the period, there were 48 eligible political parties participating in the election, and 21 parties among them won at least one seat in the Parliament.
The Election of 2004
The requirement for political party in the 2004 Election was a little bit stricter than in 1999. Article 143 of the Law No.12/2003 states that any political party participating in the 1999 Election that gained less than 2 percent of seats in National Parliament or less than 3 percent of seats in Local Parliament, where the seats are distributed in at least half of the total number of province and regency/municipality in Indonesia, is not allowed to participate in the 2004 Election, unless the political party is willing to incorporate themselves with other political party. Fifteen political parties in Parliament at that time did not pass the requirement.
The requirement was become harder since every political party that has been passed the verification test conducted by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights was then required to establish complete branch office in two-third of total province in Indonesia and in two-third of total regency/municipality in those provinces. In addition, every political party is also required to have at least one thousand members or one-thousandth of the total population in regency/municipality where they establish branch office, evidenced by valid membership card, and the party is required to have permanent branch office.
If a party successfully passes the first phase of the verification process at the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights and meets the qualification imposed in Law No.12/2003, they are allowed to register themselves participant in the election. All the documents needed for the registration will be verified ministry officials administratively and factually.
All those requirements successfully reduced the number of participating parties for the 2004 Elections into 24 parties. In the end, out of those 24 parties, 17 of them won at least one seat at the Parliament. There were 237 political parties attempting to participate in the 2004 Elections.
The Election of 2009
The regulations imposed for political parties in the 2009 Elections were designed to make the political party system more effective. However, basically there was barely any change in party requirements. Interestingly enough, the number of participant party was higher than in 2004: there were 38 national parties plus 6 Aceh’s local parties. In the end, there were 9 parties won at least one seat in the Parliament.
In order to be eligible to participate in the 2009 Elections, first, old parties must meet the minimum 2 percent parliamentary seats of electoral threshold. Seven out of sixteen parties met the threshold. However, the Constitutional Court (MK) later decided that all political parties participating in the 2004 Elections are eligible to participate in the 2009 Elections as long as they meet the requirements contained in Law No.10/2008.
Secondly, new party has to establish branch office in two-third of the total province in Indonesia and two-third of the total regency/municipality in those provinces, and they also have to have at least one thousand members or one-thousandth of the total population in the area which they establish the branch office, and they also have to meet the 30 percent woman representation quota within their central office, and they also have to have permanent office in every administration level.
The Election of 2014
In the 2014 Elections, the requirement for participation was getting stricter. Law No.2/2011 requires political party to establish branch office in 100 percent of total province in Indonesia, 75 percent of total regency/municipality, and 50 percent of total sub-district in the regencies/municipalities in the provinces where they establish the branch office.
Every political party that seeks to participate in the 2014 Elections has to pass the verification process by the Election Commission. The Constitutional Court states that if there is any change in the requirement, all political party must obey the new regulation.
“According to the equality before the law principle, the election management bodies should never treat new parties differently from old parties (those that were participating in the 2009 Elections). If a party was imposed with a certain requirement, that requirement should also be imposed to other parties as well,” said the Chief of Judges of the Constitutional Court, Mahfud M. D. (08/29/2012).
There were 12 national parties and 3 Aceh’s local parties considered as eligible to participate in the 2014 Elections, and there were 22 ineligible parties. Ten out of those twelve parties won at least one seat in the Parliament.
What the Requirements Will be in 2019?
The requirement for participation in the 2019 Elections should be stricter than before. This is because we need to improve the political party system and to make sure that the participating parties really have what it takes to compete in the elections. One of the tasks of political party is to provide political education to the public. The political party that fails to meet the legal requirements should be the one that is unable to deliver such task properly.
What the requirements for political party will be in the 2019 Elections? Rumor has it that the government may very well impose again the requirement that political party must establish branch office in 100 percent province, 100 regency/municipality, and 75 percent sub-district in the regency/municipality in the province where they establish the branch office.
Do you agree on that? Will the consequence of such regulation be substantial to our democracy?