Sat, 05 Jul 2003

Compromise seals election bill

Kurniawan Hari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

High school graduates, suspects, or convicted persons can be nominated as presidential candidates in 2004 when the country will organize the first direct presidential elections following a consensus of the nine House factions on those issues on Friday.

Small parties that did not get any seats in the House of Representatives (DPR) could field a presidential candidate by forming coalitions to make at least 5 percent of the total votes.

Those articles were among the crucial issues in the presidential election bill negotiated by leaders of House factions from 8 p.m. on Thursday until 3:30 a.m. on Friday at Santika Hotel in Central Jakarta.

The agreement of the nine factions on those issues ended the prolonged debate on the bill and paved the way for its endorsement, scheduled for Monday.

The consensus of factions on the crucial issues was somewhat surprising as in the beginning the opposing factions defended their own arguments.

Golkar Party and the Reform faction, which consists of the National Mandate Party (PAN) and Justice Party (PK), were among the factions that proposed that a presidential candidate must have a university degree.

The consensus achieved on Friday instantly drew speculations that there were backroom deals among the factions.

"It is the best compromise that we can achieve. If we deny this, it is a lie," Patrialis Akbar of the Reform faction said on the sidelines of a meeting with Minister of Home Affairs Hari Sabarno here on Friday.

United Development Party (PPP) faction chairman Barlianta Harahap said the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) and Golkar played a major role in the consensus.

"As long as the consensus does not contradict the Constitution, PPP will support it," Barlianta added.

Barlianta was referring to PDI Perjuangan which insisted on allowing high school graduates to run for the presidency and Golkar which lobbied to allow suspects or convicted persons to join the presidential race.

PDI Perjuangan chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri is a high school graduate, while Golkar chairman Akbar Tandjung is convicted in a Rp 40 billion (US$4.8 million) graft case.

The House factions also agreed that party leaders who were elected president or vice president were not required to relinquish his or her structural position in their respective party.

The factions agreed that the nomination of presidential candidates and their running mates must be registered with the General Elections Commission (KPU) no later than seven days after the results of legislative elections were announced.

Political parties or coalitions must also submit the program, vision and mission of presidential candidates with the registration.

In his report, deputy committee chairman Ferry Mursyidan Baldan said the bill was now composed of 15 chapters and 103 articles from the previous 17 chapters and 77 articles in the original draft of the home ministry.

Ferry of Golkar faction added that of the 665 items discussed by the factions, 115 items were settled through negotiation.

Key Articles in the Bill

Article 5: (1) Contestants in the presidential election shall be candidates nominated by political parties or coalitions of parties. (2) The announcement of the candidates shall be made at the same time as the submission of the names of would-be legislators to the General Elections Commission. (3) Registration of candidates must be made after the results of the legislative elections are announced. (4) Candidates can only be nominated by parties or coalitions of parties that win 15 percent of seats in the House or 20 percent of the total legislative votes.

-- Especially for the 2004 election, the parties or group of parties that win at least 3 percent of seats in the House or 5 percent of total legislative votes can nominate a candidate.

Article 31: (1) Candidates and running mates authorized by KPU are not allowed to withdraw their nomination. (2) Otherwise, the parties or group of parties nominating the candidate are not allowed to nominate another candidate.

Article 35: (9) Candidates may have chance to present their political platform in the second-round of the election, facilitated by KPU.

Article 36: (i) Campaigns can be held through public debate/debate among candidates.