INDONESIA: Women May Get 79 House Seats, Fewer Than 2009

Monday, May 12, 2014
The Jakarta Post
South Eastern Asia
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 

Women may get 79 or 14 percent of the total seats in the House of Representatives following April's legislative election; a figure that was lower than the historic high of 18 percent or 103 seats in the 2009 election, researchers said Monday.

This is despite more women candidates, accounting for 37 percent or 2,467 of the total 6,619 candidates, contesting the 560 House seats.

"This really shows the need to evaluate political party policies regarding their efforts to have women candidates win seats," said Sri Budi Eko Wardani, director of the University of Indonesia's (UI) Center for Political Studies (Puskapol).

Women candidates gained 23.31 percent of national votes from around 125 million, slightly higher than the 22.45 percent gained in 2009, according to Puskapol.

The General Elections Commission (KPU) has yet to release figures on the conversion of votes to seats, following its announcement late last Friday of the election's official results.

"More education is needed for voters on the importance of having enough women lawmakers," said political analyst Ani Soetjipto.

Advocates for improving conditions for women have been pushing for a minimum level of 30 percent women in the House, to better campaign for policies considered urgent, such as lowering the maternal and infant mortality rates.

However, the campaigns for affirmative action have so far only resulted in the mandatory minimum of 30 percent of women among women candidates for each political party, to enable parties to contest an electoral district.

Similar to predictions regarding all legislative candidates for the House, 30 of the 79 women - or 39 percent - had family connections to incumbent members of local legislative bodies, governors and regents, said Puskapol researcher Anna Margret.

One candidate who failed, however, incumbent Golkar lawmaker Nurul Arifin, said chairman Aburizal Bakrie's instruction was that anyone was entitled to become a candidate "as long as the party could guarantee their electability".

The Center also found that although the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) won the legislative election with over 18 percent of the popular vote, it was the United Development Party's (PPP) women candidates who gained the most votes among women or 22.33 percent across 75 electoral districts, while the party that secured the lowest number of votes for its women candidates was the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) with 13.20 percent.

Data from two other electoral districts, Papua and West Papua, had not been obtained from the KPU at the time of writing.

The KPU said valid votes totaled almost 125 million or 75.11 percent of eligible voters.

The two other parties whose women candidates secured a high number of votes were the NasDem Party with 19.74 percent and the Democratic Party with 18.56 percent.