Coalition demands revisions to election rule that may reduce women candidates

Source – May 22, 2023
Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem) member Titi Anggraini – Undated (Kompas)

Vitorio Mantalean, Jakarta – The Social Concern for Women's Representation has sent a subpoena to the Election Supervisory Body (Bawaslu).

They are demanding that Bawaslu ensure that the General Elections Commission (KPU) immediately revise a regulation that could reduce the number of women candidates in the 2024 elections, because this is in line with the supervisory function of the institution.

Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem) representative Titi Anggraini said that the revision should aim to restore the political rights of women as candidates for House of Representatives (DPR) and Regional Houses of Representatives (DPRD) members as regulated under Article 28H Paragraph (2) of the 1945 Constitution and Law Number 7/2017 on Elections.

"First, we demand Bawaslu to carry out its supervisory function and issue recommendations to the KPU so that they carry out their legal obligations in accordance with the oath of office, apply the principle of independence, uphold the Constitution and the Election Law, and immediately determine revisions [that need to be made to] KPU Regulation Number 10/2023 within 2x24 hours", said Anggraini on Monday May 22.

According to Anggraini, the summons was officially received by the Bawaslu secretariat general on Friday May 19, but there has still been no response.

Several other social organisation that are part of the group, such as Advance Indonesian Women (MPI), the Indonesian Women's Political Caucus (KPPI), the University of Indonesia (UI) Political Studies Centre, the Gajah Mada University (UGM) Election Corner and Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), have also demanded that Bawaslu take legal steps to address the issue.

"If the KPU does not then follow up on Bawaslu's recommendations as detailed in point 1, the Social Concern for Women's Representation will demand that Bawaslu immediately use its authority to submit a judicial review with Supreme Court as regulated in the provisions under Article 76 Paragraph (2) of Law Number 7/2017", explained Anggraini.

Bawaslu is also being urged to immediately announce the results of supervision of the list of prospective legislative candidates that have been registered by the political parties, to ascertain whether the regulation on the 30 percent minimum women's representation has been obeyed by all the political parties in all electoral districts.

The registration period to register legislative candidates opened on May 1 and closed on May 14, and the 18 political parties participating in the 2024 elections have all registered their legislative candidates.

All of the parties claimed to have registered more than 30 percent of women as candidates.

As reported earlier, a civil society coalition whose members are made up of retired commissioners from the KPU, Bawaslu and the Election Organisers Ethics Council (DKPP), sent a subpoena to the KPU over its failure to keep its pledge to revise regulations that could reduce the number of women candidates in the 2024 election.

KPU Chairperson Hasyim Asy'ari has confirmed that his they have yet to revise Article 8 Paragraph (2) of KPU Regulation Number 10/2023 on the Nomination of Members for the DPR, Provincial DPRDs and Regency/Municipal DPRDs.

Under this article, the KPU stipulates a rounding down if the calculation of the 30 percent participation of women results in a decimal number of less than 0.5.

So for example, if in an electoral district has eight legislative candidates, then the required 30 percent representation of women is calculated to be 2.4.

But because the decimal value is less than point five, the number is rounded down. As a result the minimum representation of women candidates in an electoral district with eight candidates is only two, but is considered to have met the requirements.

Yet two out of eight candidates is actually equivalent to 25 percent, which means that it has not yet met the minimum threshold of 30 percent as required by Article 245 of Law Number 7/2017.

Asy'ari claims that the KPU has already taken the initiative to accommodate the interests of women's representation, even though the provisions in question have not been revised.

He actually countered these concerns by citing the figure for women's representation in the registration of legislative candidates that closed on May 14, claiming that it already exceeds the minimum quota of 30 percent.

"Eighteen parties registered prospective candidates with the KPU, and the representation of women is above the minimum limit determined by law, that is a 30 percent minimum representation of women", he said.

The KPU's response however was seen as contradictory. On May 10, the KPU responded to the Coalition's concerns and held a press conference stating that they would immediately revise the technical provisions on the calculation of the 30 percent minimum representation of women.

Addressing the media, the KPU accompanied by members of Bawaslu and the DKPP also claimed to support gender inclusive elections and encourage the fulfillment of women's representation in this process.

The Coalition however considers that the KPU is now even further from fulfilling its pledge, after the DPR's Commission II held a public hearing (RDP) on May 17 that was attended by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the KPU, Bawaslu and the DKPP, which instead asked the KPU not to make any revisions whatever to the regulation.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Koalisi Sipil Somasi Bawaslu agar Pastikan KPU Revisi Aturan yang Bisa Kurangi Caleg Perempuan".]