05 November 2020

By: Despan Heryansyah

(Researcher at the Center for Constitutional Law Studies (PSHK) and Doctoral Student at Law Faculty UII Yogyakarta)

There appears an anomaly in Indonesia's representative system, if seen from the currently happening phenomenon, exactly in its substance. As a democratic country, Indonesia in its constitution and in the state philosophy of Pancasila has promulgated that democracy prevails in the life of the nation, state and society. People's representatives, therefore, are elected periodically every five years to voice the people’s interests and to balance the executive power to be under control. Unfortunately, the conception of the representative system as the embodiment of people’s sovereignty does not work as expected, and even in many cases both (people’s representatives and people’s sovereignty) are often opposite. Philosophically, people’s representatives are derived from people's sovereignty. Thus, when the people's representatives are no longer in line with the people's sovereignty, they have lost their essence or reason as the people's representatives.

Covid-19 Phenomenon

What has happened lately further strengthens that thesis that people's representatives often contradict with the people's sovereignty. Covid-19 outbreak phenomenon has raised concerns for the world community, including Indonesia. This epidemic greatly affects the world communities’ longevity, especially their work and service. As a result, traders have to close their businesses due to lack of transactions, service providers have lost their customers, large companies are unable to operate, leading to layoffs for their employees, and so forth.

Unfortunately, the parliament has been busy with the implementation of the stages of discussion and ratification of a number of draft laws such as Work Draft Bill, Penitentiary Bill, and Criminal Code Bill that are controversial and ironically have nothing to do with the current conditions. Such bills, even in a normal condition, can lead to a wave of mass protests. Due to probably substantial and procedural defects, they have been repeatedly canceled. While the public and the government are fighting against covid-19, the parliament seizes this precarious condition "quietly". How ironic.

Perhaps, the parliament considers covid-19 outbreak is to be handled by the executive government. In fact, parliament is the people's representatives that have responsibility for getting rid of any distresses from which our people are suffering. This thesis requires the parliament to take an active role in every situation that befalls the people, including covid-19 pandemic.

Democracy as a political ethos

The above reality indicates there is something wrong with democracy as a political system in our country. The view of democracy as a political system is widely adopted nowadays. People seem to believe that as long as the political system is democratically organized, the actors (including the people) will be democratic, too. Such optimism is immediately challenged by the empirical fact that quite a number of countries in Latin America, in Eastern Europe, and in Asia (including Indonesia) have democratic constitutions, but these constitutions do not necessarily realize real democracy. A new wine bottle is filled with old wine. The conception from F. Budi Hardiman says that we need to distinguish democracy as a political system and democracy as a political ethos. As a political system, democracy is a political mechanism for public policy making that embodies people’s sovereignty or public interest. In contrast, as a political ethos, democracy is the energy or mentality that drives individuals to carry out democracy. This political ethos is not in the system, but is attached to actors, society, and state administrators, all of whom implement democracy. What we have witnessed lately shows that Indonesian democracy is only at the level of the political system, but the mentality of its actors is still authoritarian. It no wonder the people's representatives do not show any sympathy with the people. The people's representatives are conflict with the people’s sovereignty, instead.

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Oleh: Dr. Despan Heryansyah, SHI., SH., MH.
(Peneliti Pusat Studi Hukum Konstitusi (PSHK) FH UII Yogyakarta)

Terminologi yang penulis gunakan dalam artikel ini adalah “pemilukada”, bukan “pilkada”, bukan pula “pemilihan” seperti yang selama ini digunakan. Terkait dengan pemilihan kepala daerah, terdapat perdebatan panjang yang melelahkan bahkan sampai hari ini belum selesai, yaitu apakah rezim pemilihan kepala daerah termasuk rezim pemilu, ataukah rezim pemilihan kepala daerah.

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