RI citizens 'not ready' for full direct polls


Irawaty Wardany, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Full direct elections, in which independent candidates could compete, are not avalid option here yet as both voters and political parties are not ready, political experts say."Parties are still reluctant to accept a full direct election system because they would lose the authority to determine candidates (for both presidential and legislative elections)," director for research and publications at the Akbar Tandjung Institute, Alfan Alfian, told a discussion here Wednesday.

The government should also consider whether or not the Indonesian public want to implement such a system, he said.Alfan said among Indonesian voters were rational voters who selected candidates based on their track records, ideological voters who selected candidates based on their ideologies, irrational voters who voted for a candidate based solely on charisma and symbolic voters who selected candidates based on their political parties.Alfan added that a full direct election could only be implemented in a well-educated society where people would study each candidate's credentials before casting their vote."On the other hand, the implementation of such a system would force parties to work harder to better develop themselves," Alfan said.Joseph Kristiadi from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said Indonesia had a direct election in 2004, but, "it was still half-hearted" and not a full one.He said the implementation of such a system would have several benefits."First, it may help people choose candidates more accurately and would make candidates work to be closer to voters," Kristiadi said."Secondly, this could open up the opportunity for anyone to compete in elections and therefore would decrease internal conflicts in parties."Thirdly, this could force political parties to present their best leaders to be chosen by the people," he added.Irmadi Lubis, a legislator from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle said a full direct election was a certainty."This is something we expect to achieve," he said.However, he said there were some negative aspects of full direct elections when compared to indirect elections."The cost is 10 times higher than indirect elections," he said.He said he hoped all people would work together to improve the current election system in order to foster democracy in the future.
"Nobody knows when we will achieve that goal," he said.Head of the National Mandate Party faction in the House of Representatives, Zulkifli Hassan, said a full direct election system would not be easily implemented in the country due to the lack of a democratic culture within political parties."If parties could develop a democratic culture within themselves, I believe this system could be implemented," he said.

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