The Philippine Election Commission (Comelec) accepted approximately 97 presidential candidates and 29 vice-presidential candidates for the 2022 Philippine General Elections. Most of the candidates ran through independent channels or without any political party affiliation. Meanwhile, there are 19 political parties that are pushing their candidates to run for next year. More than a hundred of these candidates will be named by Comelec by the beginning of January 2022. “The Philippines is different. In elections, you can run as an individual or represent a community,” said the Secretary of the Asian Democratic Network (ADN), Ichal Supriadi when interviewed by Jaring.id on Tuesday, November 16, 2021.
This neighboring country of Indonesia implements “the first past the post voting system” to determine the winner. The candidate who gets the most votes wins the presidency, regardless of whether or not he has majority support in parliament. While the vice president is elected separately through the same system. For the legislative elections, the Philippines applies a party-list system. Representation in parliament is determined proportionally from political parties and marginal groups.
Around 80 percent of parliamentarians are elected from political parties, while 20 percent of the seats are reserved for marginalized groups such as workers, students, women, farmers, and indigenous peoples. Marginal groups, according to Ichal, do not need to form political parties to participate in the elections. They only need to include proof of support from the community they represent for Comelec. “The Philippines does not only open up opportunities for political parties to sit in parliament, but also opens up opportunities for marginalized groups,” he said.
In contrast to Indonesia, the participation of political parties in the Philippines is somewhat looser. The determination of the parties participating in the election is known as the political party accreditation. There are two parties participating in the accreditation phase, there are divided into two namely the majority party and the minority party. If a small party that registers does not meet the requirements, then the party can join a coalition party to win the election.
The ease with which parties participate in elections is also reflected in the political system applied in Thailand. Thailand’s constitution in 2017 stipulates that the establishment of a party is sufficient to provide an initial capital of 1 million Bath or the equivalent of IDR 300-400 million. The money was deposited by the party founders and had to be reported to the public. Each donor may not exceed 50 thousand Baht per person.
Apart from that, parties must also prove that they are holding a general meeting with a minimum of 250 members. The growth of members will later be used as a condition for participating in elections. In a year, their members must increase by at least 500 people. Parties are only required to have representative offices in each of the eight regions in Thailand. “One of the good things in Thailand is that the party promotes democracy within the internal political parties,” said Ichal.
In the 2019 Thai election, two new parties managed to enter the top five seats in the legislature, namely the Palang Pracaharat Party and the Future Forward Party. Of the 500 parliamentary seats, Palang Pracaharat managed to win 24 percent of the seats, while the Future Forward Party got 18 percent of the seats.
Meanwhile, Indonesia has a different mechanism to determine the participants in the election. One of the differences lies in factual verification. Ichal said verification of political parties is one of the chronic problems in Indonesian elections. The old party tends not to want to be verified. In fact, when monitoring the verification of political parties in the 2014 General Election, many inconsistencies were found between administrative documents and facts on the ground. The KPU itself has difficulties because the data applied by political parties are complete, half complete and some are unclear,” he said.
Even so, it is difficult for Ichal to determine which system in the country is the most ideal. According to him, each system has its advantages and disadvantages. The elected presidents in Indonesia and the Philippines may not have the support of the main party that has a majority seat in parliament, as the president-elect in countries with a dual-party system, such as the United States.
“Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines by the book are already quite good and open to party formation, although the implementation needs to be improved,” he said while revealing that the formation of political parties and the electoral participation system is strongly influenced by the administration, structure and laws that apply in each country. ️
The Verification just Benefits to the Old Parties
On Thursday, November 24, 2021, the Constitutional Court (MK) rejected the application for judicial review of Law Number 7 of 2017 concerning Elections proposed by four non-parliamentary parties, namely the Berkarya Party, Perindo Party, Crescent Star Party and the Indonesian Solidarity Party. The Court assessed that the main point of the application, namely Article 173 regarding the verification of the parties participating in the election, was the same as the case that had been decided by the Constitutional Court in its decision number 55/PUU-XVIII/2020.
The decision stated that political parties that had passed the verification of the 2019 Election and met the parliamentary threshold would still be verified administratively, but not factually verified. Meanwhile, parties that do not pass the threshold and new parties will be verified by administration and factual.
Constitutional law expert, as well as judicial review applicant Yusril Ihza Mahendra, assessed that the decision in case number 55/PUU-XVIII/2020 related to the review of Law Number 7 of 2017 Article 173 paragraph (1) regarding the General Election was illogical. The provisions regarding the verification of political parties (political parties) are considered not to reflect the essence of justice as developed by constitutional judges. When there are three categories and their positions are not the same, then according to Yusril, the treatment for the three is also not the same. Vice versa.
“The current meaning is that there are three categories (of parties), and there are two treatments. The second category and the third category are treated in the same treatment and that is against the principle of justice,” he said during the preliminary examination hearing at the Constitutional Court on September 22, 2021.
The rules for verifying political parties are articles that are often challenged in every election. In 2020, the Garuda Party filed a lawsuit against the same article. For Garuda, this article is detrimental because parties that have passed verification in the previous election must be verified again when participating in the election.
In 2018 the Idaman Party and the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) also challenged articles requiring verification for parties outside parliament. Meanwhile, the parliamentary parties were immediately designated as election participants without verification. For Idaman and PSI, the provision is unfair because there is a different treatment. The Court granted all applicants so that in the 2019 general election all new and old parties must be administratively and factually verified.
A similar decision was also issued by the court in 2014. The Court corrected Law No. 8 of 2012. At that time, parliamentary parties were immediately declared to be election participants without verification. Meanwhile, parties that do not get seats and new parties are required to fulfill verification. The Court assessed that the old and new parties must be verified.
The Board of Trustees of the Jakarta-based Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem) Titi Anggraini assesses that the last Constitutional Courts decision tends to favor parties that already have seats in the House of Representatives (DPR). According to her, the factual verification process should be carried out for all parties, old and new. This is useful for confirming the administrative requirements that have been submitted by the party to the KPU. “The basic goal is to reduce the number of political parties participating in the general election because the combination of an election with an open proportional system creates a large number of parties and legislative candidates,” Titi said when interviewed on Thursday, November 25, 2021.
Even so, the requirements for parties to participate in the election should be more flexible and contextual. According to her, one of the requirements, such as office ownership is no longer relevant ahead of the 2024 General Election. Especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. This is because many meetings between parties and constituents are now conducted online (on the network). Meanwhile, in big cities, there is a coworking space that political parties can use as the offices. “This should no longer be interpreted conventionally. So we have started to shift the paradigm to follow the developments in the world of work, especially the pandemic situation,” she said.
Apart from that, the KPU also needs to try a tiered contestation system for new political parties. Under this system, new parties need to win elections at the district/city level before competing at the provincial and national levels.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chairman of Commission 2 of the House of Representatives from the National Awakening Party (PKB) faction, Lukman Hakim, denied that the Constitutional Court’s decision had benefited the parties in the DPR. According to him, the verification process for political parties is a consequence of the presidential system. The simplification of the party system is carried out by screening the membership and parliamentary thresholds. “It’s not a matter of profit and loss. This is how democracy has matured and found the ideal format. This is a matter of being consistent with the design that we have agreed upon together,” he said when contacted on Thursday, November 25, 2021.
Lukman assessed that the requirements for political parties to participate in the election were in accordance with the characteristics of national political parties, apart from Aceh which has local parties. With a national nature, the requirements applied must also reflect the existence of political parties nationally. This requirement has also been regulated in the Election Law and cannot be negotiated unless it is decided differently by the Constitutional Court. “There’s nothing to make it difficult. It’s natural for this new party, it doesn’t matter,” he stressed.
As of today, Thursday, December 2, 2021, the KPU is still compiling the PKPU related to registration, verification, and determination of political parties participating in the election. Commissioner of The Indonesian Election (KPU) I Dewa Kade Wiarsa Raka Sandi stated that his party would stick to the Constitutional Court’s decision to verify the election participants.
Several things that are different in the 2024 Election compared to the 2019 Election are the time for registration preparation and the absence of clarification activities for the illegally alleged multiple memberships. “There have been some changes, especially with regard to the Constitutional Court’s decision,” he said when interviewed on Tuesday, November 16, 2021.
Dewa said to check the dual membership, the Election commission would maximize the use of the Political Party Information System (Sipol). The use of SIPOL will be optimized during registration. Registration is carried out centrally at the Indonesian General Elections Commission so that parties do not need to submit documents at the district/city level. (Debora B. Sinambela)