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2004 - Legislative Elections

Up to 147 million voters were called to the polls on 5 April 2004 to elect the 550 members of the national House of Representatives together with the members of the provincial and regional legislatures and those of the Regional Representatives' Council, a new assembly of provincial delegates. All together, at stake were 15,276 seats in national, provincial and district parliaments. The 2004 legislative elections were considered to be generally free and fair. Twenty-four parties took part in the elections.

Big parties lost ground, while small parties gained larger shares of the vote. However, the two Suharto-era nationalist parties, PDI-P and Golkar, remained in the lead. PDI-P (opposition party during the Suharto era) lost its plurality in the House of Representatives, dropping from 33% to 18.5% of the total vote (and from 33% to 20% of the seats). The Golkar Party (Suhartos political party) declined slightly from 1999 levels, going from 22% to 21% of the national vote (from 26% to 23% of DPR seats). The third- and fourth-largest parties (by vote share) were two Islamic-oriented parties, the United Development Party (PPP) (8% of the votes, 10.5% of the seats) and National Awakening Party (PKB) (10.5% of the vote, 9.45% of the seats). Susilo Bambang Yudhoyonos nationalist Democratic Party (PD) won 7.45% of the national vote and 10% of the DPR seats, making it the fourth-largest party in the DPR. Seven of the 24 parties won no DPR seats; six won 1-2 seats, and the other six won between 2%-6% of the national vote (between 5-52 DPR seats).

The country's third democratic legislative elections were a complex affair with voters receiving ballots for the DPR, the DPD, provincial parliaments, and regency and city councils. Thirty-eight national parties competed in the elections, with an additional six parties in Aceh Province only. Irregularities occurred, requiring 245 reruns in 10 provinces. Observers concluded the vast majority of irregularities involved logistical difficulties (primarily due to faulty voter list data) rather than malfeasance. Some violence and intimidation also marred the legislative election campaign in Aceh, Papua, and West Papua. In general, domestic and foreign observers found the elections free and fair.

Parties were required to win a minimum of 2.5 percent of the national vote to qualify for a seat in the DPR. Nine parties met this threshold and won seats in parliament. There was a delay in final legislative seat allocations, because the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, and the National Election Commission had different allocation systems; the Constitutional Court's ruling prevailed. The top three vote getters were secular, nationalist parties, followed by the four largest Islamic-oriented parties. President Yudhoyono's Democrat Party won a plurality of seats, while then-Vice President Kalla's Golkar Party finished in second place. The major opposition party, the Indonesia Democratic Party-Struggle, led by Megawati Sukarnoputri, finished in third place.

The most crucial difference between this new Parliament and its predecessor was that due to the Democratic Party's dominance, this DPR is expected to be more supportive of the government's policies. In the outgoing parliament the Democratic Party controlled only 10 percent of the seats compared to nearly 30 percent now (168 of the 560 seats). With its coalition partners, the four largest Islamic-oriented parties, PD controlled 56 percent of the seats.

The outgoing 2004 DPR, the second democratically elected Parliament in Indonesian history, limped to a finish 30 September 2009. The press and NGOs have criticized the DPR for only reaching 25 percent of its targeted legislative output and for passing a spate of half-baked laws in poorly attended sessions in its final days. Many previous laws were struck down by the Constitutional Court and observers expect some of the new last-minute laws to face the same fate. Allegations of misdoing also plagued the 2004 DPR. Indo Barometer, a polling agency, indicated that only 51 percent of the respondents were satisfied with the DPR but 90 percent were happy with President Yudhoyono.




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