Thu, 17 Jul 2003

KPU blames lawmakers for districting problem

Moch. N. Kurniawan, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The General Elections Commission (KPU) has violated the general elections law on districting because legislators had made contradictory articles in the law, experts say.

Article 46 (2) of law No. 12/2003 on general elections says an electoral district is allocated between three and 12 seats in the provincial legislature. Electoral districts can be a regency or a combination of several regencies, depending on the size of the population.

Jakarta, which has 8.62 million people, has 65 seats in the provincial legislature, to be split among the five municipalities.

The West Jakarta municipality, with a population of 2 million people, will get 15 seats, East Jakarta will get 18 seats for 2.44 million people, and South Jakarta 14 seats for 1.86 million people -- all in excess of the maximum 12 legislators.

This may encourage political parties, especially those that receive little support from the people, to contest the results of the 2004 elections.

University of Gadjah Mada law lecturer Denny Indrayana and Smita Notosusanto of the Center for Electoral Reform (Cetro) said the KPU had decided to declare a densely populated municipality or regency as an electoral district, despite the fact it had more than 12 seats as required by the law.

KPU deputy chairman Ramlan Surbakti said Tuesday that it was referring to article 46 (1), which stipulates that an electoral district comprises a municipality or regency or a merger of municipalities and or regencies -- not separating a regency or municipality into several districts.

Denny said the decision would create potential problems in the 2004 elections unless political parties made a consensus not to sue KPU for the decision.

Although it was theoretically possible to review the election law, it would be risky to do so so close to the elections, he said.

"I did not understand why legislators did not make a simulation on districting when deliberating the general elections law. The law now creates a dilemma on districting.

"We now need a consensus among parties to give their understanding that the decision on districting is the only possible solution available. If we try to make a judicial review or legislative review, the process will be long and if it is finished after the 2004 election, many will question the legitimacy of the poll results."

Smita also blamed legislators for creating a law full of loopholes.

"That elections law is the result of a process in the House of Representatives that did not include public participation," she said.

Meanwhile, legislator Ferry Mursyidan Baldan of the Golkar Party said legislators were unlikely to review the election law.

"KPU should consult with us over its problems in implementing the general election law," he said.

"We do not consider the law needs revision just because of this little thing," he said.