May 24, 2024

Fahri Hamzah and Electoral Reform

Fahri Hamzah is a deputy chairman of the DPR RI from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS). His roles are able to balance the influence in national political stage. It is not exaggerated to position him as a figure who significantly contributes to the formation of political opposition in the government. Therefore, “Red-and-White” and “Indonesia is Great” coalitions were born; coalition which disturb the comfort of the political elites and split public logic. Government*s ears are burning listening to his tweets; he is hated and loved at the same time.

Unfortunately, the new leadership of PKS which was formed last year had dismissed Fahri from all levels of the PKS membership since April 3. 2016. In de jure, Fahri Hamzah is now called former PKS cadres. This paper will not dig up the roots of the problems and chronology of Fahri Hamzah*s dismissal of its membership, or morality indictment. This paper will use Fahri*s phenomenon as a stimulant to discuss the design of our political infrastructure, and elaborate it with electoral aspects.

At glance, it seems like there is no relationship. However, if we dig deeper into the concept of elections, then this phenomenon is an appropriate example to straighten the concept of electoral system in Indonesia; that election is not just a technical stage of implementation throughout the year. After inauguration, election is considered over. Yet, election is a cycle that governs political power shifts repeatedly; there are areas to evaluate the electoral process and the election results. There is also an area of accountability of political promises delivered during campaign. Election cycle does not discontinue so that Commission is made permanent.

Fahri Phenomenon and Electoral System

Fahri Hamzah was from the constituency (electoral district) of Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB) with sequence number 1 for the election of members of Parliament in 2014. People who voted in NTB were 2,760,081 voters, out of a total of 3,569,581 people after being added to Additional Voters List (DPTb). Participation rate was 77.32 percent of voters. NTB people were given their rights to choose 10 people who will represent their aspirations to the House of Representatives, of the 120 candidates offered by the party.

In the end, the people*s voice of NTB delivered Fahri Hamzah (PKS), Syamsul Lutfi (Demokrat), LG. Syamsul Mujahideen (Hanura), H. Faisal Zaini (PKB), Rachmat Hidayat (PDIP), M. Syarifudin (PAN), M. Lutfi (Golkar), Willgo Zainar (Gerindra), Ermalena MHS (PPP), and Kurtubi (Nasdem ) to Senayan (DPR RI). Of the 10 representatives, Fahri Hamzah gained the highest trust of the people of NTB, with 125.083 votes-18 percent of the total vote of the elected delegates.

The electoral system used to send 10 delegates of NTB people was open list proportional representation. With this system, each party participating in the election offered list of names to the public to vote for. The term used is not merely a meaningless diction, there are consequences attached to it. First, the term open list requires the party to offer a figure; it is not enough to rely on big name of the party. Elected candidate is determined by the voters and not by the party. The task of the party is only to present lists of names and to assist provision of seats for the party of the votes collected.

Finally the party carefully put their best people to the list. Various variables are used to select people who are considered beneficial. Ideally, it needs beautiful combination between someone who is able to bring the interests of the party to realize its vision and mission, with a figure capable of fulfilling the public imagination as an exact representation. So, if the party puts “Pancoran statue” in their list, certainly there will be no voter willing to cast their votes. One pair of names can be fatal, the party will lose seats. From this perspective, the role of Fahri Hamzah as a figure to attract the public voice felt quite real.

Open list even forces candidates to undertake political efforts independently, more than what is provided by the party. They plan a campaign, raise funds, set up the team, and so on. Needless to say that many parties depend their political campaign on the candidates. Party has minimal role in campaign activities. No doubt that candidate from the same party competes fiercely. Therefore, we can not deny their effort during campaign period. Fahri Hamzah independent efforts in the open list system were directly proportional to the number of PKS seats.

Second, proportional term is used to honor every vote casted by the public. It carries OPOVOV principle, one person one vote one value. It is to ensure that no votes are uncounted or wasted. Math election has been trying to provide the best formula to describe the configuration of the seats in parliament in accordance to votes casted. Seat distribution should reflect the distribution of voter representation. Therefore, the determination of the elected candidates uses denominator voters* logic with two stages of seat allocation. Justice of this model allows party with small vote acquisition in the calculation of the first stage, is still likely to represent his constituents in parliament on the second stage of the calculation.

At the party, stipulation of the elected candidates is taken from candidates with the most votes. Proportionality works when a party is given quota of two seats or more by voters. Math election will name two candidates with the most votes first, second and so on as representatives. Every candidate with each campaign gets the right representation proportionally or in kind based on the number of votes obtained. Party figure who finally sits in this parliament is a reflection of people*s aspiration to entrust their aspirations to the chosen legislatives. In NTB, voters deputed their votes or aspiration to Fahri Hamzah.

Voters* Sovereignty versus Party sovereignty

Dismissal of Fahri Hamzah as PKS cadre then eliminated the right of representation in parliament. If referring to Article 220 paragraph (1) letter c of Law No. 8/2012, an elected candidate can be replaced if he/she no longer qualified to be members of the Parliament. Article 51 paragraph (1) letter n then stated that one of the requirements to become a member of the House of Representatives is a member of political party participating in the election. With Fahri*s dismissal of party membership, automatically his status as members of the board is also alienated. The relations between voters cast to their designated representatives are destroyed instantly. Open list loses its open meaning; proportional loses its proportional reflection.

Open list proportional system that we use is in fact not in line with the political infrastructure design that is implemented. It is true that party is the bearer of the legislative candidates. However, the basic concept of the open list places voters to sovereignly decide the elected candidate, not the party. In the case of Fahri, sovereignty is very easily annulled by the decision of the leadership and did not rely on principle violations if we use voters* perspective. In fact, open list proportional system should be implemented consistently to all political infrastructures in Indonesia. Design replacement of elected candidate must be adapted to attached electoral principles that we professed.

Application of the open list proportional system is to be called consistent if it is able to protect the candidate from one-sided party*s decision. It is considered one-sided in a context of party*s position in the election process and result, not internal party*s matter. It*s not fair to hand over internal party disputes, pertaining to the status of a person*s membership in the council, entirely to the Court Party. It is as if party is prosecuting people*s choice without considering the opinion of the people themselves. Later, this is exactly what happened to Fahri Hamzah*s case in which party*s leader became a complainant, investigator, and judge as well as the person who signed a decree of the member dismissal. Of course, this form of justice is not healthy. Moreover, based on the circular letter of PKS, a charge of the party does not seem to be concerned with the party*s ideology.

It also needs to be understood that the design of the current regulations is the antithesis of the difficulties experienced by the party to discipline its board members that were not in line with the policy direction of the party. Parties are not prohibited to replace their members. However, at least, it should be provided a fair and neutral space for candidates in order to face the attack of the party. Because against party*s decision, has the same meaning as attacking all existing structures in it. This means attacking people sitting on the structure of Court Party. Subjectivity in the judicial process will be very high and the integrity of the results decision is also in doubt, especially if we see pessimism and level of public confidence in the party as an institution in Indonesia which is dropping. Third party is needed so that the sovereignty of the people*s voice is considered.

Third party needs to maintain people*s sovereignty over party*s sovereignty. Therefore, 125.083 voters in Fahri Hamzah*s case should have an appropriate bargaining position. This third party will be the assessor to decide whether a board member who is given votes by the people, is decent to be dismissed by the party related to the rules they have. Such institutions are believed to provide the fairest decision and trusted by the public/voters. Looking at the character functions, this mediating institution can function as the Constitutional Court (MK) in solving disputes of election result. Of course, electoral perspective has to be strong.

Placement can be done anywhere, for example in the Commission as an institution authorized to determine the elected candidate, or in the Court as an institution that has been trusted to serve disputed election results, or even on the Special Judicial bodies that are scheduled to be formed. District Court (PN) only is not enough. By doing so, voters have guarantee that representatives votes are not treated arbitrarily by the party. There is a professional independent institution, which can be used as a place to complain and seek justice. So that Fahri Hamzah voters in the future are not ignored by the party. All this can be realized by reforming the electoral system in Indonesia.

Electoral Reform

Opportunities to reform electoral design thoroughly and fundamentally are open this year. 2016 National Legislation Program (Prolegnas) has accommodated to undertake a codification of electoral law. This momentum can be used to reform all aspects of the election fundamentally. It is unfortunate that the idea of codification of electoral law is only used to simplify election regulation into legislation. There are quite a lot of election designs that are far from the reality, one of which is a choice of electoral system compared to current Fahri*s phenomenon. With proper electoral simulation, electoral purposes can be achieved well and election result will have a significant impact.

Commitment to consistently apply the principles and overall system selection is very important. There are aimed objectives and context to be maintained.  Anomalies of principle and system choice will bring reform to the aimless direction. In discourse of the open list proportional system, the consequences direct us to reform and improve the infrastructure design of electoral politics. Among these are to be consistent to protect the voters* sovereignty through healthy and independent judiciary, in case of legislators disputes against party decision. Political Party Law, MD3 Law, and Election Law should be revised, because our electoral system is proportional open list.

If Fahri Hamzah*s case is considered appropriate, then our electoral system should be restored to closed list proportional system. Parties are given back their right to elect members of the legislature in accordance to the party*s will. People only choose political party that is in line with their vision and mission. Legislators* movement will reflect the movements of party ideology completely. It is now up to us, to fix and strengthen any vulnerable and weak points of this closed list system. If not, we will continue to be in a paradox of electoral system and political infrastructure. Voters will continue to lose, as 125.083 voters who trust their voice to Fahri Hamzah. Fahri promises that brought seats for PKS can not be realized.


A Perludem Activist