Indonesia: Candidates switch parties as legislative election draws near

  • The 2019 presidential race appears to have overshadowed the legislative election in the past few months, leaving in the shade the battle among political parties to win seats in the House of Representatives.
  • As parties struggle to pass the higher electoral threshold, dozens of lawmakers have switched their political vehicles while seeking another term at the House, moving to a party with a greater chance of passing the threshold in a bid to secure their own re-election.
  • The Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said that at least 31 out of hundreds of incumbent lawmakers had switched parties to contest the 2019 election, with NasDem being the popular party of choice for politicians who have lost faith in their old parties.
  • According to the think tank, 20 politicians from six different parties at the House had joined NasDem, CSIS political analyst Arya Fernandes said. He pointed out that it was an indicator that NasDem had been successful in luring politicians to join them in the upcoming election.
  • 16 of the 20 politicians and legislative candidates who switched sides to NasDem are running for the same constituencies in which they had won in the 2014 legislative election.
  • Though the party is currently the second-smallest among 10 political parties at the House with 35 seats, NasDem secured many victories in the simultaneous regional elections in 2018, with 10 gubernatorial candidate pairs backed by the party winning in 10 out of 17 provinces participating in the election.
  • Arya pointed out NasDem’s proactive headhunting as one reason why many politicians agreed to join the party in the upcoming election.
  • Hanura, the smallest party by far with only 16 seats in the House, lost the most with 7 lawmakers leaving, 6 of whom are joining NasDem.
  • 16 national parties that will stand in the 2019 legislative election are expecting a tight race, especially after the minimum electoral threshold for the 2019 election was raised to 4% of the national vote from 3.5% in 2014.
  • A survey by Kompas Research and Development in Oct 18 concluded that based on their electability ratings, which are still below 4%, 5 out of the 10 older parties — Hanura, NasDem, the PKS, the PPP and PAN — will struggle to win House seats. Hanura had the lowest rating at only 1%.

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