Published: 04/10/2012

Women representation in the parliament becomes one thing that must be fulfilled. Therefore, it is mandatory to pursue affirmative action in the General Elections in an effort to improve the representation of women in the parliament. The affirmative action has been implemented in Indonesia since the 2004 General Elections based on the Election Law that regulates about the 30 percent quota of female legislative candidates. Although the quota attempts has been introduced, the 2004 General Elections have yet to show significant success number because women representation in the House of Representatives (DPR) could only reach 11.09 percent.

A positive sign on the issue of women representation appeared after the issuance of Law No. 10 Year 2008 that combines the implementation of the quota system, zipper system and the regulation on candidacy consecutive numbers. The quota system guarantees that there are 30 percent of female legislative candidates, at the very least, in General Elections. The zipper system, which requires a female legislative candidate’s position among three other legislative candidates (in candidacy consecutive numbers), becomes a strategic action to prevent female candidates be positioned in big number of candidacy. Based on the regulation of candidacy consecutive numbers, legislative candidates in the position of small candidacy number will get bigger opportunities to be elected as evidenced in the 2004 General Elections.

In its development, the female candidates’ bigger opportunities through the combination of affirmative action based on the 2008 General Elections Law could disappear when some political parties decided to implement the regulation of the biggest votes in the parties’ policy. The regulation was approved by the Constitutional Court based on the Decision of the Judicial Review of Article 214 Law 10 Year 2008.

The implementation of the biggest vote regulation is not in line with the affirmative action attempt, which could only be applied using the candidacy consecutive numbers in the General elections. The zipper system regulation become ineffective after the Constitutional Court annulled the regulation of the candidacy consecutive numbers. If we take the experiences of some countries with good women representations, the zipper system and the quota system have been proven effective and successful in improving the women representation number.

Apart from the failure in implementing the zipper system, the biggest vote regulation would also create problems for female legislative candidates to enter the parliament. The biggest vote regulation requires the candidates to approach and interact directly with their constituency. Their activities to approach their constituency would costs considerable amount of money. It would likely difficult for women to approach and interact directly with their constituency due to their limited economic conditions. The fact that women received limited political education compared to men would likely be a problem in female legislative candidates’ efforts to campaign for the elections. Another problem appeared from the society, which is still gripped by the strong patriarchal values. It would be difficult for female legislative candidates to gain public trust in such a society. The elections that adopts the biggest vote regulation would force women to work harder compared to that of men.

Looking at the problems over the issue of women’s representation before the 2009 elections, the Women Research Institute (WRI) as an institution that focuses on gender issues and women consider that the establishment of a regulation to replace the biggest vote regulation could affect efforts to increase women’s representation as a result of the 2009 legislative elections 2009. Therefore, WRI supports the immediate issuance of Government Regulation in Lieu of Law and Regulation of the Election Commission to accommodate affirmative action through the application of the competition system that is divided between men and women, with the determination of the election results to include at least one woman among three candidates selected by a Party in one electoral district.

Efforts to increase the representation of women become very important in providing justice for women’s political rights, by developing policies that protect women’s political rights.***