May 28, 2024

Political Reform: The Key to the Future of Indonesian Democracy After the 2024 Election

Ahead of the Constitutional Court’s (MK) decision regarding the General Election Results Dispute (PHPU), a number of experts predict that Indonesian democracy will experience serious challenges in the next elected government. This is based on the many rules of the game in democracy that are violated, thereby reducing the legitimacy of the elected government.

Director of the Center for Media and Democracy, Institute for Economic and Social Research, Education, and Information (LP3ES), Wijayanto, said that the decline of democracy has been visible since Constitutional Court Decision Number 90/PUU-XXI/2023 concerning the age limit for presidential and vice presidential candidates. According to Wija, through this decision, many people are denying the rules of the democratic game in order to elect one of the candidate pairs.

“The scars of the MK 90 decision will always be there; the impact is that there are many rules that follow,” said Wija in the LP3ES online discussion, entitled “The Future of Indonesian Democracy in the New Leadership Period” (21/4).

Wija views the decline in democracy that Indonesia will face in the next government in the form of: freedom of opinion, weakening of the opposition, dual functions of the police and TNI, and the strengthening of nepotism. According to him, this is due to the increasingly strong oligarchy, while pro-democracy actors and civil society are still marginalized.

A similar view was also expressed by the Director of the Center for Law, Human Rights, and Gender (LP3ES), Hadi Rahmat Purnama. According to him, the principle of the rule of law and the protection of human rights must be the main foundation of a democratic system. However, he believes that Indonesia has a long way to go in improving the democratic process because it is still hampered by the interests of the majority and has not prioritized the public interest. For this reason, according to him, it is important to ensure the recognition and protection of human rights (HAM) and a free and independent judiciary.

“What we have to take care of is ensuring that these legal products support the democratic system, thereby recognizing and protecting human rights,” said Hadi.

Hadi illustrated that the principles of the rule of law and human rights protection are not just additional aspects of a democratic system but rather foundations that must be strong and sturdy. Without a clear legal basis and effective human rights protection, according to him, the risk of abuse of power will increase and threaten the stability and integrity of democracy.

“So it is important to target civil society movements to strengthen democracy by strengthening the institutions that support democracy,” he said.

Meanwhile, according to the Executive Director of the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem), Khoirunnisa Nur Agustyati, elections in Indonesia are still procedural and cannot touch on substantial matters. In fact, to create a good democracy, it requires both to be strong and sturdy. Based on the implementation of the 2024 elections, Ninis noted that there are still many problems related to election governance and regulations.

“There are still many procedural problems.” In fact, the principle of elections is that the procedures must be predictable and the results cannot be predicted because the competition must be healthy,” said Ninis.

The 2024 election is considered to have experienced many setbacks for election organizers; many legal decisions were not implemented by election organizers, such as the arrangement of electoral districts (dapil) and the affirmation of women. Even though, according to Ninis, democracy should have been consolidated in six elections after reform, there are still many election procedures that need to be reorganized.

“The 2024 election really needs to be the momentum for a major evaluation as a whole, including systems, actors, governance, and election law enforcement,” he explained.

The 2024 election is considered an important moment to carry out a comprehensive evaluation of the election process, including technical and qualitative aspects. Ninis emphasized that reform of the Election Law and Political Party Law is an urgent step that must be taken immediately to improve the electoral system and the quality of political parties.

According to Ninis, political parties are institutions that are late in reforming because they have not been revised for 12 years since 2011, even though during that time, there have been many improvements that need to be made to the law. According to Ninis, the impact is that political parties are not yet well institutionalized, and there are still many problems related to recruitment, cadre formation, and financial transparency that have an impact on decision-making within political parties.

“This is the time to reform the Election Law and the Political Party Law, because this will determine our democracy in the future,” said Ninis.

Ninis emphasized that improvements to the electoral system and political parties should be carried out immediately after the new government is formed. Revision of the Election Law and the Political Party Law must be a priority and immediately discussed long before the 2029 General Election. This is aimed at ensuring that legal products are not mixed with certain political interests. []