Sat, 25 Jan 2003

House fails to finish electoral bill on schedule

Kurniawan Hari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Disagreement over the electoral system and threshold have stalled the deliberation of the election bill, raising the specter of failing to meet the Jan. 30 deadline.

Most political parties have agreed to introduce a proportional, open-listed system, which allows people to vote for individuals, while the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) is insisting on the proportional system, where voters can only choose political parties.

PDI Perjuangan, chaired by President Megawati Soekarnoputri, is the biggest faction in the House.

Small political parties in the House are also insisting that the implementation of the 2 percent electoral threshold be delayed until the 2009 general election so that they too can still contest the 2004 election.

Legislators deliberating the bill said on Friday that they would not finish deliberating the bill on time.

The chairman of the House of Representatives (DPR) Special Committee for the election bill deliberation, Agustin Teras Narang, said the bill's endorsement had been rescheduled to Feb. 11.

"We've agreed to finish the bill in February, possibly on Feb. 11," said Teras from PDI Perjuangan.

Deputy chairman Chozin Chumaidy of the United Development Party (PPP) said the committee would report the delay to the House's Steering Committee (Bamus) next Thursday.

The delay will be the second after legislators also failed in November to beat the deadline, which they themselves set.

Other issues of contention that have slowed down deliberation include electoral jurisdiction, the status of civil servants who become legislators, defendants who want to nominate themselves as legislators and the number of Regional Representatives Council (DPD) members.

Of more than 900 items, he added, there were 101 unsolved items.

Had the issues on the electoral system and electoral jurisdiction been finished, Teras said, it would be easier for legislators to finish with other issues.

"Because those issues relate to the electoral system," Teras added.

Regarding the debate on the electoral system, Chozin disclosed that most factions had agreed to adopt a proportional system with an open list of candidates.

He said that only the PDI Perjuangan faction was insisting on maintaining the current proportional system.

Under a proportional electoral system, the people vote for political parties, not individual representatives.

Commenting on the delay, a member of the General Elections Commission (KPU), Hamid Awaluddin, said the delay was tolerable.

"The sooner the legislators finish the deliberation, the better. A one or two-week delay is acceptable," Hamid told The Jakarta Post on Friday night.

Hamid added that he could understand the difficult task the legislators had in deliberating the election bill. There are at least 900 items in the bill that must be discussed.

He, however, expected that legislators would quickly finish debating the bill because a quick deliberation would benefit political parties and the nation as a whole.

Quicker deliberation would give more time for the KPU to organize registration as well as clarify political parties.