Skulduggery in Party Verifications
The simplification of parties’ factual verifications is violating the law. The validity of election results could be in danger.
THE General Election Commission (KPU) is making a mistake in simplifying the factual verification process for political parties candidates ahead of the 2019 General Election. Doing so is not only inconsistent with the Constitutional Court ruling requiring the factual verification of all parties, but this move by the KPU could also threaten the validity of the Election results.
Factual verification is a very important means for those running the general election to ensure the eligibility of all the parties contesting in it. These requirements include having a board in every province, fulfilling the requirement for a minimum of 30 percent representation of women in its candidate line-up, and having at least a thousand party members in every regency or town and city. It was because of this that the Constitutional Court revised the factual verification provisions in the General Elections Law to encompass all parties taking part in the 2019 Election. Initially, only newly contending parties were included in this process.
Regrettably, the KPU is not abiding by the now final and binding decision of the Constitutional Court. The Commission also chooses to ignore the decision’s standing as equivalent to that of a law. The KPU, which in essence ought to be an independent institution, is instead paying greater heed to Government and House of Representatives (DPR) voices. Both want factual verifications to apply only to the four new parties to compete in 2019, and not to the 12 parties which already participated in the 2014 Election. Citing time and budgetary limitations, the KPU has simplified its factual verifications of the 12 established parties by adopting census the sampling method.
It will be difficult to ensure accountability for such verifications, especially as the KPU has given the 12 parties so much latitude. One example of this is that parties themselves may choose their party membership samples in regencies or towns and cities. Commission officers no longer visit the homes of party members, as it is considered sufficient to verify them at the offices of the party’s regional board. This method of verification is very vulnerable to skulduggery, and allows parties to easily concoct their own membership data.
It is easy to imagine how problematic it would be for this republic if a party passing such a verification become the winner in 2019. The legitimacy of that party could then be readily challenged in court, and its victory then overturned. If that does happen, all the hard work of holding the Election would have been in vain. Worse still, such complications could easily end up in political turmoil.
The current KPU Commissioner needs to learn from the previous term’s leadership. At that time, the KPU accepted the decisions of the Constitutional Court, and carried out factual verifications of every party contending the Election, not just the new ones. Moreover, at that time 34 parties-double the number of current aspiring participants-took part in the Elections. Out of that number, the KPU only passed the 10 parties it considered met the requirements as Election contenders. The other 24 were eliminated. Later on, the Election Supervisory Board and the courts allowed two more parties to enter the Elections.
The KPU should actually be capable of setting the time limit needed for the factual verification of the 12 established parties. The opportunity for it to do so is left wide open as it is not stated in the Election Law: the time limit of February 17 in that Law determining the participants in the 2019 Elections only applies for the new parties. The Law gives the KPU ample room to maneuver when making its own schedule for the factual verifications of the 12 established parties.
By carrying out these verifications as stipulated, the KPU will not just ensure that the quality of democracy in this nation remains untarnished, but will also offer the same treatment to all parties contending the Election. The Government and the DPR must support that effort by agreeing to provide the additional funding needed to do just that.