Scrutinizing Parties’ Commitment to Engage Women in 2024 Elections
The General Elections Commission (KPU) has released a list of prospective candidates who will register to participate in the 2024 elections. In the list, all political parties have fulfilled the minimum 30 percent representation quota for women candidates as required in the Election Law Article 246 paragraph (2).
KPU Commissioner Idham Holik claims that political parties have met all the registration requirements. In compliance with the Article 248 paragraph of the Election Law which reads: "KPU verifies the completeness and authenticity of the required administrative documents for legislative candidates and verifies the fulfilment of women's representation of at least 30% (thirty percent)", Idham said KPU would conduct a verification process for the registered candidates. One of the steps that must be taken is announcing the List of Temporary Candidates on the election commission's website and social media pages.
"Based on Appendix I of KPU Regulation No. 10 of 2023 and Article 252 paragraph (4) of the Election Law, on August 19-23, 2023, the KPU will announce the List of Temporary Candidates. This is proof that we implement the principle of openness in the election," Idham said when contacted on Monday, June 12, 2023.
He emphasized that the KPU was open if the public objected to the participation of the candidates. The evaluation process is available for the public to access within the period of August 19-28, 2023, as regulated in Article 252 paragraph (5) of the Election Law.
"The KPU will provide an opportunity for the public to submit input and responses on August 19-28, 2023," he explained.
Although the KPU stated that the data of political parties had completed the requirements and there was no problem with the minimum 30 percent female participation requirement, this did not apply in the regions. One example occurs in the West Sumatra regional office of the election commission, where many regional party administrators have difficulties in finding female candidates to be nominated in the 2024 election process.
When asked about the obstacles that political parties are facing in determining female candidates, Idham seemed reluctant to answer. He left the matter to each party. According to him, the most important thing is that the party has fulfilled all administrative requirements to date. "Please ask the political parties directly," he said.
One of the organizations that objected to the data displayed by the KPU at this time was the Board of Trustees of the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem), Titi Anggraini. She said that the data on women's participation in the 2024 elections was only displayed in the aggregate. There is no data for each electoral district. Thus, it is possible that some electoral districts did not fulfil the minimum 30 percent of seats for women's representation.
"The representation of women published by the KPU is still in the form of national aggregate data and it is based on provincial or district/city areas. The data on women's representation of at least 30% should be opened to the public based on each electoral district so that we can ensure that it is in accordance with the provisions of Article 245 of Law 7/2017 on General Elections," she said.
She asked the election commission to immediately open candidates' data from all legislative levels, both for the House of Representatives, the provincial, and regency or city’s regional councils. Otherwise, the data displayed by the KPU today is just a form and an attempt to fool the public.
"The presentation of aggregate-based data can deceive and cover up the existence of electoral districts which have less than 30% female representation," she explained.
Political Parties Difficult to Attract Female Candidates to be Legislators
Data presented by the KPU regarding the participation of political parties shows that non-parliamentary parties have the most female cadres for the 2024 elections than parties that already have positions in the House of Representatives.
The top five parties from non-parliamentary circles which have fulfilled the 30% quota are the Ummat Party with a percentage of female representation of 49.66%, then the Garuda Party with 45.52%, the Perindo Party with 42.39%, the Nusantara Awakening Party with 41.03%, and the Star Crescent Party with 40.52%.
Even the bottom five parties (with the lowest women candidate participation) are mostly those with the highest representation in the House. A non-parliamentary party, the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) has fulfilled women's representation of 32.24%.
Deputy Chairperson of PSI's Board of Trustees, Grace Natalie, realized that the low number of female candidates in the party had been the object of criticism. She said reaching the 30% female representation remained an unfinish work that the party continued to address.
"The fact that there are fewer female registrants also becomes the party's responsibility to convince the public that women are eligible to participate in politics through PSI. However, this fact does not erase PSI's track records of alignment with women," Grace emphasized.
Despite the low participation rate of women in PSI, Grace claims that her party will still side with the issue of defending women. Among the most popular issues Grace mentioned were the rejection of polygamy and child marriage.
"There is no party that openly rejects polygamy other than PSI. We are also actively participating [in the advocacy of] other issues, including child marriage and the Bill of Sexual Violence Elimination. Even in PSI, we established the Solidarity Committee for the Protection of Women and Children," she said.