December 2, 2023

Pancasila Election System

Appreciating Proportional Votes

The codification initiative of the election law also initiates a discussion on which election system should be implemented in the concurrent election. Amidst the classical debate between open-list proportional representation system and closed-list proportional representation system, there is another alternative called Pancasila election system. Other than to accommodate the contextual condition of Indonesia, Pancasila election system is also designed to maintain the positive aspects from open-list system and closed-list system at the same time.

It is a political expert, Nico Harjanto, who first suggests the idea of Pancasila election system for the Election Law Codification bill. The alumni of the Northern Illinois University, at that time, have not called the ideas as “Pancasila election system”.

“Why do not we call the idea proposed by Mr. Nico as Pancasila election system? This system is the middle way between the open-list and closed-list system,” said the Coordinator of the Election Law Codification Initiative, Titi Anggraini, during a meeting at Grand Zuri Hotel, South Tangerang (08/09/2015).

In Indonesian politics, Pancasila is often regarded as a middle way or “third way”. Pancasila is regarded as a reposition from the Western and Eastern ideological camps. The principles contained in Pancasila were written in such a manner as not to represent the ideology of liberalism or communism. There is a very popular joke that says Pancasila is a “confused ideology” because it is very confusing: it is not based on liberalism nor communism, not Left nor Right, not secular nor theocracy.

Nico said, voting method, as one of many important variables in election system, can be engineered according to our needs. There are many positive aspects from voting method as implemented in the 2004, 2009, and 2014 legislative election. However, we must admit that voters tend to vote for a candidate instead of political party on the ballot.

“The best response for such situation is not to completely change the current open-list system to closed-list. The downside from choosing a candidate should only be compensate with the upsides from the closed-list system,” Nico explained during the meeting.

If the Pancasila election system has 3 to 6 seats per district, it means political party is free to arrange the number of candidate they want to propose. For example, in the electoral district of Bangka Belitung with 3 seats available, political party may not be proposing any candidate list, but also they may proposing a candidate list with one to three candidates.

The same thing also applies to the electoral district of West Java IV with 6 seats available. Political party may propose only one candidate or maximum three to six candidates. Any electoral district with more than six seats available should be compelled to reduce their magnitude to only 3 to 6 seats available.

At first glance, Pancasila election system might not seem too different from open-list system. The difference is that, in Pancasila election system, there is hidden candidates list represented by the political party logo. Political party is allowed to propose their own candidates list as if in the open-list and closed-list system. Political party is also allowed to propose two separate candidates list as if in the open-list and closed-list system altogether. Or political party is allowed to propose their candidates list just like in the open-list or in the closed-list system separately.

The vote counting mechanism in Pancasila election system is relatively the same with the previous legislative election. If a voter votes for candidate number 3, then the vote is fully counted for the candidate number 3. This is also applied for any candidate in any candidate number. If a voter votes for a political party, then the vote is fully counted for political party.

The difference is in the stipulation of which candidate shall won the seat. The seat shall be given to any candidate with the number of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 if they acquire votes in the same amount of or more than the seat price (voters divisor index/BPP). However, if it is the political party that acquire the votes in the same amount of or more than the BPP, then the seat allocation shall be in accordance to the closed-list system principle. How many candidates win the seats will depends on the result of conversion of votes acquired by the political party.

Women Representation

Other than being a middle way between the closed and open list system, Pancasila election system also tries to resolve the problem regarding women representation in the Parliament. All this time, woman politicians has been disadvantaged by the candidates list that is designed vertically. The number one candidate, which probably regarded as the “best” candidate, is filled with male politician. It looks as if woman politicians has somewhat subpar quality compared to male politicians just because they are placed under male politicians (number 2, 3, and so on).

Nico Harjanto suggests, the candidates list should be made in two columns. The number should be placed in a zigzag manner. Odd number is on the left, while even number is on the right.

Nico also suggests, woman candidates should be placed on the right column (even number). The reason behind this is sentimental. According to Nico, the majority of people in Indonesia regard right-side as the good side. And if the voter vote with their right hand (as majority of people do), it is easier for them to choose for the right column than the left column.

Electoral System Design: The New International IDEA Handbook classifies election system into four categories: proportional representative (PR), majority/plurality, mix, and other. PR, which is usually classified into open-list proportional representation and closed-list proportional representation, is emphasizing on the proportionality between the number of votes with the number of sears available.

The proposal from Nico Harjanto is noteworthy because it reminds us that representation without BPP requirement will only result in a non-proportional proportional system towards the votes cast for political party. Open-list system is indeed disregard any vote cast for political party. However, in reality, there are many voters cast the vote at the logo of political party instead of the name of candidate, and this votes shall be converted into votes for candidates.

Many policy makers realize, there are still many voters prefer to vote for political party instead of candidate. There are two reasons behind this phenomena: firstly, political party has its root deeply-planted in Indonesian society and its politics. Secondly, many voters are more familiar with the name of political party instead of the name of candidates. Policy makers are worried there will be wasted votes if the election system disregards the votes cast for political party. Therefore, they chose to regard the votes as valid. []