Political parties, electoral system and women’s representation in the 2004 - 2009 Indonesian Parliaments

Women Parliament Indonesia

One of the most prominent means of enhancing women’s representation in new democracies is the use of gender quotas for elections. These can be applied in a variety of ways, all of which seek to increase the number of female candidates and elected parliamentarians. For Indonesia’s 2004 elections, a non-compulsory quota system was introduced in which political parties were asked to nominate 30 percent women in their lists of parliamentary candidates. However, the 2004 election still resulted in only a small proportion of women being elected to the national parliament (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat), East Java provincial parliament (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Daerah Propinsi Jawa Timur) and Sidoarjo local parliament (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Daerah Kabupaten Sidoarjo): 11.3 percent for the national parliament, 16 percent for East Java parliament and only 2.2 percent for Sidoarjo parliament. These percentages are still far below the 30 percent demanded by women activists. This paper argues that the greatest obstacles to women’s election are found in the institutional design of electoral system and the structure of political parties. The semi-open list of proportional representation used in the 2004 election has encouraged stiff internal competition within parties. Party elites privilege providing winnable positions for themselves over women’s empowerment, placing many women in non-winnable positions. Consequently, women’s chances to be elected to parliament were very small. This paper elaborates the role played by Indonesia’s political parties and electoral rules in the representation of women in the 2004-2009 period. It concludes by suggesting some reforms to the existing quota system which could improve its operation in the future. CDI Policy Papers on Political Governance centre for democratic institutions 2006/2 The CDI Policy Paper series focuses on pressing issues of political governance in the Asia-Pacific region. The series publishes original papers commissioned by CDI, each of which deal with important issues for policymakers interested in issues of democracy, governance and political institutions. The papers feature new research and policy recommendations, and aim to forge research-topolicy links and provide new insights and analysis on subjects of concern to CDI. 2006/2

Publication Details