PDI-P nixes amendment to give DPD a bigger legislative role
Members of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) are rejecting a proposal to amend the 1945 Constitution to give the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) legislative power.
The PDI-P faction in the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), which is comprised of the DPD and the House of Representatives (DPR), said that the moment was not right to amend the Constitution.
The PDI-P’s leader in the MPR, Yasonna Laoly, said all parties wanting to have the Constitution amended should stick to the so-called “soft bicameralism” under a parliamentary system.
“The Constitution can’t be wrong in mandating soft bicameralism, because it was decided on by all parties when they decided on the [first] four amendments,” he said.
The fourth amendment established the DPD to represent the regions, placing legislative power in the hands of both the President and the House while denying the President veto power.
Article 22D of the Amended Constitution gave the 132-member DPD only an advisory role on proposed legislation.
Currently, 130 members of the DPD are backing a motion to convene a special session of the MPR in 2012 to amend the Constitution to give the DPD the power to approve or reject legislation.
However, the council needs the support of at least 94 House lawmakers to meet the minimum requirement of one-third support of the MPR to convene a special session.
A Constitutional amendment requires support from two-thirds of the MPR’s 692 members.
DPD chairman Irman Gusman was optimistic that the amendment would win support, claiming it would benefit the nation.
“The DPD has proposed not only to amend Article 22D to modify the legislative system, but also to strengthen the presidential system, regional autonomy, national commissions, the Constitutional Court and give new emphasis on human rights,” he said.
Irman said that the DPD’s leaders have lobbied many people, including President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, about the importance of the proposed amendment.
Efforts to amend the Constitution after this year would be futile as politicians would be busy gearing up for the election in 2014, he said.
Democratic Party councillors in the MPR previously objected to the proposed amendment, saying it would interfere with the House’s legislative agenda.
Achmad Basarah, the PDI-P’s secretary in the MPR, said that a new amendment would end the privileges of parties in political recruitment and lawmaking in the House.
“The proposed amendment is bad news for political parties and will diminish their chances of nominating presidential candidates, because in the end it will allow for independent candidates to join the race for the presidency,” he said.
The PDI-P in the MPR appears divided on the proposed amendment. PDI-P secretary-general Tjahjo Kumolo and Taufik Kiemas, the chairman of the party’s patron board have backed the initiative.
Yasona, however, said that the time would come when it would be necessary to amend the Constitution.
“It will depend on whether parties have succeeded in campaigning on the first four amendments and in implementing them,” Yasona said.