Benefits of Simultaneous Election in Indonesia 

By: Gabriella Oroh, SH.

Election has been held directly once in 5 (five) years since 2004 as a logic implementation of democracy in Republic of Indonesia.  Article 22E Paragraph (1) of the Constitution of the Republic stipulates that, “General election shall be conducted directly, general, free, secret, honest, and fair once every five years.”  Until recently, Indonesian citizen, represented by The People’s Representative Council (DPR) believe that the ideal concept of election is to separate between legislative and executive elections. In other words, the legislative election shall be held prior to executive election.  

This concept of separate elections has been considered as improper nowadays due to the inconsistency with the 1945 Constitution of Indonesia. This problem climaxed when several alliances proposed for judicial review of Law No. 42 Year 2008 concerning Presidential Election (hereinafter referred to as the Presidential Election Law). Ultimately, Constitutional Court through Decision of Constitutional Court No. 14/PUU-XI/2013 decided that separated elections (article 3 paragraph 5, article 12 paragraph 1 and 2, and article 112 of the Presidential Election Law) are unconstitutional on the ground that the Elections shall be held simultaneously for executive and legislative.

Furthermore, this simultaneous election is widely related to the Presidential Threshold, which will be invalid if the simultaneous election is applied. According to article 9 of Presidential Election Law, Presidential Threshold is a mechanism of minimum limitation for a presidential candidate to enter in presidential election round, in which the candidate for president and vice president can only be proposed from a political party or coalition of political parties which already had 20 percent of legislative chair in People’s Representative Council (DPR) votes or 25 percent of national legislative votes prior to the presidential election.

According to the above reasons, there are pros and contras recently regarding the change of election from separated to simultaneous. However, the author believes that simultaneous elections will grant more benefits than harm, which are as follow.

First, in the initial preparation of the simultaneous election, political parties will be “forced” to create a coalition for proposing the presidential candidate before the election started. Therefore, there will be no “bargaining coalition” based on the result of legislative election, as if the elections are held separately. The coalition will be based on the similarity of platform and program, not from political interest, and once the result of the election is published, it will be easier for the chosen president to decide on his own policy since he will not be forced by the alliance party with different program.

Second, by implementing simultaneous election, voter’s participation will be increased. By still implementing separate election, voters will not vote in executive election if their candidate has been eliminated in the legislative election. With simultaneous election, there will be no elimination of legislative candidate.

Third, according to political psychology experts, simultaneous election will trigger cottail effect, in which the voters will vote for executive and legislative from a same party. This will bring benefits for Indonesia since the chosen president will be supported by legislative from his own party in parliament. Therefore, executive’s program and policy will be easier to be approved by the legislative. Furthermore, there will be little to no effort from legislative to distract executive’s incumbency. In brief, simultaneous election will bring strong synergy between executive and legislative.

Ultimately, simultaneous election will benefits from financial perspective since there will be no double funds for two elections, which we all know that election funds are massive. For instance, the budget for 2014 election will exceed IDR 16 trillion, which will be better to be spent for developing other vital sectors.

Despite of the pros and contras to the technical issues of the election (i.e. simultaneous or separate), the most important thing is for this election to generate new citizen-oriented leaders with solid integrity. Whichever the mechanism of the elections selected, it will be futile if the election(s) are tinted with conflict of interest.