In mid-2023, Indikator Politik Indonesia released the results of a survey regarding the level of public trust in public institutions. The findings revealed that political parties were the least trusted public institution, despite being considered the most fundamental instrument of democracy according to the constitution.
Valina Singka Subekti, Professor of Political Science at the University of Indonesia (UI), stated that the initial purpose of assigning a central role to political parties in the constitution was to build a more democratic political system, serving as a link to the political aspirations of the public. Unfortunately, despite their central role and significant authority, there is no specific chapter in the constitution that regulates political parties.
“At that time, political parties argued that political parties didn’t need to be regulated in the constitution; it would be sufficient to address them in the law to allow for more flexibility. Apparently, they didn’t want their hands tied within the constitution,” said Valina during the webinar “Mendorong Akuntabilitas dan Transparansi Partai Politik untuk Pemilu Berintegritas [Promoting Accountability and Transparency of Political Parties for Integrity in Elections]” (12/14).
According to Valina, the improvement through a more democratic governance of political parties is crucial and should be continuously pursued. She believes that there have been political obstacles preventing suggestions regarding political party reforms from being fully adopted in the law. She assesses that Law Number 2 of 2011 (Political Party Law) is still too normative and lacks implementation.
“It is necessary to amend the articles within the political party law, especially to support the performance of our political parties,” she stated.
Furthermore, political party reform is considered crucial because political parties also contribute to the decline in the quality of democracy in Indonesia. One of the assessment indicators is the role of parties in parliament. However, according to Valina, the decline in trust in parties is also a common phenomenon in other countries, related to the rapid development of technology and information.
“Political participation and the formation of public opinion have been replaced, and even more effectively carried out through the internet, through social media, without the need for the presence of political parties,” she explained.
In addition, she mentioned that parties also do not have strong roots in society, making them unable to offer program choices that align with the party’s ideology and the needs of the people. The dominance of familial connections in politics also results in public policies being less favorable to the interests of the community.
“We can see various public policies in the form of laws, such as the revision of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Law, Mineral and Coal Law (Minerba), Job Creation Law, revision of the Capital City of Indonesia (IKN) Law; all of them lack public involvement in their formation processes,” said Valina.
Meanwhile, Transparency International Indonesia (TII) since May to August last year conducted an assessment on the central leadership of political parties holding seats in the House of Representatives (DPR). Nine parties were evaluated based on internal regulations, structure and human resources, as well as information openness. The results showed that the average score for each dimension ranged from 26% to 50%, with a tendency toward suboptimal performance.
Wawan Suyatmiko, TII Program Deputy, explained that none of the parties fell into the category of optimal conditions. The highest score, obtained by the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Partai Gerakan Indonesia Raya or Gerindra), in the internal financial dimension only met the category of tending towards maximum. Meanwhile, the remaining eight parties, Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan or PDIP), Golkar Party, National Democratic Party (Nasdem), National Awakening Party (Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa or PKB), Democrat Party, Prosperous Justice Party (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera or PKS), National Mandate Party (Partai Amanat Nasional or PAN), and United Development Party (Partai Persatuan Pembangunan or PPP), fell into the category of tending towards suboptimal.
Meanwhile, in the dimension of structure and human resources, Gerindra and PKS were categorized as tending towards optimal. Golkar, Nasdem, PKB, Democrat, PAN, PPP were categorized as tending towards suboptimal, with PDIP being the party categorized as the least optimal. Additionally, in the dimension of information openness, Gerindra was categorized as tending towards optimal. The other five political parties, PDIP, Nasdem, PKB, PKS, PAN, were categorized as tending towards suboptimal, with Golkar, Democrat, and PPP being the least optimal parties.
“Therefore, political party must be managed with the principles of professionalism because it is already regulated in the regulations. Party finance should also be managed professionally, and information openness should be maximized through the respective party websites,” he said.
Furthermore, according to Wawan, the government needs to follow up on the Political Party Integrity System (SIPP) to become a legal product. Through this, the government can maximize its supervisory role over the financial transparency of political parties, as mandated by the law.
“Transparency and accountability of political party finance must be a shared agenda to enhance the quality of democracy and governance free from corruption,” he concluded.
Assessing the Anti-Corruption Commitment of Political Parties
Kurnia Ramadhana, a researcher from Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), stated that from 2004 to 2023, convicted corruption cases were predominantly from the political sector. About 40.5% of corruption cases originated from positions endorsed by political parties.
“Based on occupation, the highest corruption figures are among legislative members and regional heads. These individuals are closely associated with political parties,” said Kurnia.
According to him, political parties have always considered themselves private entities with the ability to regulate their internal institutional affairs at will. This is evident in the appointment of party officials without considering public ethics. However, he believes that individuals involved in corrupt practices are not deserving of a place within a political party.
According to ICW records, there are at least 56 former corruption convicts running in the 2024 Legislative Election. This includes 27 legislative candidates (Caleg) for the House of Representatives (DPR), 22 Caleg for Regional Legislative Council (DPRD) at the provincial and regency/city levels, and 7 Caleg for the Regional Representatives Council (DPD).
When looking at the distribution of political parties endorsing former corruption convicts, Golkar Party tops the list with a total of 9 candidates (DPRD and DPR). Following closely is the NasDem Party with 7 candidates, followed by PKB and the People’s Conscience Party (Partai Hati Nurani Rakyat or Hanura) with 6 candidates each. The Democrat Party and Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) have 5 candidates each, while the Indonesian Unity Party (Perindo) and PPP have 4 candidates each. The remaining candidates, 1 each, are spread across the Labor Party, Crescent Star Party (PBB), and PKS.
“The political parties that constantly talk about anti-corruption commitments, it turns out that those commitments are just lip service. The issue of anti-corruption is instead turned into a political commodity to garner public votes,” he explained.
Wawan also highlighted the lack of party transparency and education from the central level to the regional level. According to his findings, in many regions, official party websites are not utilized to their maximum potential. According to TII’s monitoring, in South Sulawesi, only 5 out of 11 political parties have official websites, and in East Java, only 4 out of 11 political parties have officers for Information and Documentation Management (Pejabat Pengelola Informasi dan Dokumentasi or PPID).
“However, this is an essential instrument, namely public information transparency mandated directly by Law 14 of 2008,” he stated.
Article 15 of the Public Information Transparency Law states that the general programs and activities of political parties and other information related to political parties must be provided by the political parties. Furthermore, Article 39 of the Political Party Law also emphasizes that the management of political parties should be conducted transparently and accountably.
“These two regulations should serve as binding elements for political parties to disclose all information related to public information to the public,” he added.
ICW also mentioned that at the central management level, only two parties provided the financial reports requested by ICW. The remaining seven parties, including the Democrat Party, NasDem, PDIP, PKB, Golkar, and PPP, did not submit financial reports for their parties.
“From this, we can easily see the extent of the anti-corruption commitment of political parties in the DPR,” concluded Wawan.
Translated by Catherine Natalia