The 2024 National Election: The hurdles in meeting the 30% target of People’s Representative Council (DPR) Seats for Women
Ahead of the 2024 elections, all political parties, including those in parliament and non-parliament, are arguing about how amiable their parties are to women, in the sense that women politicians are given an open space to step forward and march to Senayan on an equal footing with men.
This can be seen from various party events that will be held from 2022 to early 2023. From the ones titled congress to education and training, all of the agendas are being held in the name of women's political emancipation. The programs are not only carried out by national-based parties, but also those based on religion.
In fact, by June 2022, PKS appointed a Council of Experts on Women from Christian background named Evalina Heryanti. Since its inception, this is the first time PKS has inaugurated a board of experts with women and non-Muslim backgrounds.
However, several political parties' efforts to promote women politicians are still far from successful. Looking back on the 2019 Election, there were only 118 women out of 575 total seats in the People’s Representative Council of Indonesia (DPR RI). As a percentage, this figure is 20.5 percent, which has not yet reached the ideal threshold of 30 percent for women's participation in politics as stipulated by law.
In the 2019 elections, the majority of the parties have not been able to win up to 30% of their female cadres. Based on the data, only Nasdem succeeded in getting women legislative members up to 32.2% in parliament. Whereas based on a comparative ratio according to Citizenship and Civil Registration (Dukcapil) data from the Ministry of Home Affairs Indonesia's population will reach 275.36 million in June 2022. With regard to gender, 50.48% of Indonesia's population are male and 49.52% are female.
Basically, the government and DPR have taken actions to involve women in politics. Among them is Law No. 2/2008 concerning Political Parties which contains a policy requiring political parties to include a minimum of 30% representation of women in their establishment and management at the central level.
Furthermore, Law No. 10/2008 concerning Elections emphasizes that political parties can only participate after fulfilling the requirements to include at least 30% representation of women in the management of political parties at the central level. These constitutional rules have proven to bring more women to the DPR. It is worth noting that from the 1999 election to 2019, the number of women in parliament has continued to grow.
Based on the General Election Commissions (KPU) data, the percentage of elected women politicians always increases in every 5 years. However, the number decreased from 101 in the 2009 poll to 97 in the 2014 election.
The decline in women's electability was subject to study by a number of parties. Then it was concluded that the policies were insufficient to encourage women's electability. Since the beginning of the formation of the 30% quota, the number has never been unanimously achieved in every election.
It takes awareness from political parties to carry out the fulfillment of 30% seats for women. Director of the Center for Constitutional Studies (Pusako) Andalas University, Feri Amsari asserted that the rules for women's participation contained in Law no. 2 of 2008 and Law no. 10 of 2008 is valid.
Feri Amsari encourages political parties to be more open to women. According to him, unless political parties implement it in their internal policies, the constitutional rules will be useless even though it has been made in such a way.
“The problem is the attitude of political parties towards women. They have to place women either in party organizations or parliament and a number of other decision-making seats. The problem is not in the constitutional rules,” Feri Amsari reaffirmed as contacted by Tirto.
The Commissioner of the General Election Commission (KPU) RI Idham Holik conveyed the same story. He affirmed that the state had tried to regulate women's political allocations through a zipper system which regulates the placement of serial numbers for male candidates alternately or vis-a-vis with serial numbers of female candidates.
For instance, if serial number 1 is filled in by male legislative candidates, then serial numbers 2, 4, 6, and so on must be filled in by female candidates. “The implementation of the zipper system is basically ideal with the rule. This means that we already have gender equality in the election process,” he said.
Searching for Solutions for Women Politicians to Go to Senayan
However, not all parties agree that the zipper system can be a solution so that women can get their seats in parliament. Trustees of the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem), Titi Anggraini for instance, suggested for the constitution in Indonesia to implement a semi-zipper system rule.
In her proposal, Titi asked for the semi-zipper system to locate women at serial number 1, at a lower limit of 30% of the electoral districts.
“The study has been completed, and the proposal will be brought together with women's organizations including the cross-party women's movement so that they can be advocated to party leaders and elites and thus accommodated in candidacy for the 2024 elections,” Titi confirmed.
Referring to the women's electability index in the 2019 elections, most of those who made it to Senayan were participants with serial number one on the ballot papers. Meanwhile, in other serial numbers, women's votes were always lame and far in proportion to the men's voice. It is for these reasons, Perludem proposed that women should be placed number one in voting, not alternately as per the rules of the zipper system.
In addition to the discourse of the semi-zipper system, the solution for women's votes to reach 30 percent is a closed proportional election system. Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Brawijaya, Muchamad Ali Safa'at, said that this system is the most rational choice to increase the quantity of women politicians in the DPR. This is because voters surrender their votes to the party so that legislative candidates are not directly elected by the people. "However, in terms of quality, of course, it really depends on the dynamics and alignment of political parties in compiling the list of candidates," he said.
Awareness of Political Parties in Supporting Women
To achieve the ideal number of 30% female legislators, it is not enough for parties to simply carry out socialization and training. At the same time, there must be a political party’s alignment with women. This is necessary so that women's participation in becoming legislative candidates is not merely for the sake of fulfilling the minimum quota requirement of 30% stipulated by the law.
It is important for these talented female cadres to be protected and fought for by the party for progress in the legislative process of laws that reflect the interests of Indonesian women. Among the laws and regulations successfully fought by female politicians in the DPR are the Law on Crimes of Sexual Violence and the Bill on the Protection of Domestic Servants which are currently included in the National Legislation Program.
The party must also protect its talented cadres to win votes against several candidates with a number of privileges. One of the privileges in question is the family–dynasty – connection.
Although women's representation in the legislature has increased, according to the Center for Political Studies (Puskapol) at the University of Indonesia the number of women who won seats in the DPR using family connections in the 2019 elections was 41%. An increase from the 2014 election was only 36%.
Apart from that, according to Ali Safaat, to date, only a few political parties have taken the matter seriously by preparing women administrators and cadres to be active in political parties and candidates for council members.
He said that there are more parties that just fulfill the formality by adding a woman to become party administrators, or reducing male administrators for a while.
“This was done so that during verification the number of female administrators met 30%,” he confirmed.
When asked for a response regarding the awareness of pushing female politicians to parliament, all political parties share the same notion that for them the political rights of men and women are the same.
Chairman of the Central Executive Board (DPP) PDIP for Ideology and Cadreization, Djarot Saiful Hidayat said that his party has always supported women’s involvement in politics. Even though in reality the female legislature members from PDIP in Senayan are only 20.31%.
Even so, Djarot asserted that PDIP’s Chairperson Megawati Soekarnoputri and the DPR RI’s Chairperson Puan Maharani is a form of manifestation from his party to encourage women in practical politics.
“We encourage these women to be active too because it turns out that it is not easy to recruit female candidates”, said Djarot.
Meanwhile, the General Chairperson of the PKB’s DPP Perempuan Bangsa, Siti Mukaromah, affirmed that her constituents have started to open up and apply equivalent view for both men and women regarding political choices.
Siti Mukaromah said that currently women cadres are being highlighted and given an open opportunity to work. One of them is by occupying a number of strategic positions in the DPR in making decisions.
“From a role standpoint, we do the maximum. For example, currently, there are two female PKB commission leaders," she confirmed.