House represents less than 50 percent of voting population

Kompas – November 13, 2009
KPU Deputy Chairperson Ramlan Surbakti (Republika)
KPU Deputy Chairperson Ramlan Surbakti (Republika)

Jakarta – The number of voters represented by the nine political parties that obtained seats in the national House of Representatives (DPR) following the 2009 legislative elections is less that who are not represented.

This was revealed by former General Election Commission (KPU) Deputy Chair Ramlan Surbakti during a discussion titled “Evaluating the Integrity of the 2009 Election Results” in Jakarta on Thursday November 12.

The number of voters registered for legislative elections by the KPU in November 2009 was 171.27 million. However the number of votes represented by the nine political parties with seats in the DPR is only 85.05 million people or 49.66 percent. The remainder, 86.22 million voters, is not represented by the 560 members of the DPR.

The number of unrepresented voters is based on the 49.68 million registered voters who did not use their right to vote and the 17.49 million voters who did vote, but whose vote was declared invalid, plus 19.05 million voters who cast a valid vote but the parties they voted for did not obtain a seat because they failed to reach the electoral threshold (parliamentary threshold) to get into parliament.

Surbakti added that the number of citizens not represented by the parties in the parliament would be even greater if the number of people who were entitled to vote but were not registered are included. This would swell further if the total number of “ghost” voters on the electoral list were also counted.

University of Indonesia political science lecturer Andrinof Chaniago said that the low level of representation in the DPR has resulted in legislators having no roots in society. It is this situation that has triggered a discrepancy between the DPR’s attitudes and the wishes of broader society, as has occurred in a number of recent cases. The DPR often runs away from the demands of the people they represent.

Those elected to the DPR, who have no roots in society, are the result of an elitist electoral system that functions in the name of the people, yet, in reality, the members of the DPR are not one with the ordinary people. (MZW)

[Translated by James Balowski.]