It is difficult for women to enter parliament, unless they come from political dynasties

Author: Eksanti Amalia Kusuma Wardhani (Junior Researcher The PRAKARSA)

During the 12 legislative general elections (Pileg) periods, women's representation in parliament has never reached the target of 30%.

In the period 1999-2004, only 9,6% of female candidates succeeded in obtaining seats in parliament. In 2009, women's representation increased to 11,8% compared to the 2004 Legislative Election. This increase was caused by the stipulation of the 30% women's quota policy decision in Law (UU) no. 12 of 2003 concerning the General Election of Members of the People's Representative Council, Regional Representative Council, and Regional People's Representative Council.

This policy is also strengthened by the existence of zipper system which is contained in UU no. 10 of 2008 concerning the General Election of Members of the People's Representative Council, Regional Representative Council and Regional People's Representative Council, which requires at least one female candidate in every three lists of proposed candidates.

These two policies also have a positive impact on increasing women's representation in the next legislative election, namely: 17,32% in 2014 and 20,9% in 2019.

Even though there has been a fairly high percentage increase, elected female legislative members are still dominated by parties who have ties to political dynasties with political officials or party elites.

Center for Political Studies (Puskapol) University of Indonesia (UI) noted that in 2014 there were 34% of female legislative members who had political dynasty ties. In the 2019 Legislative Election, the figure increased to 44% or around 53 of the 120 female legislative members elected. This number is higher, when compared to male legislative members with political dynasty ties, namely 8,5% or 39 of the total 455 male legislative members were elected.

This shows how difficult it is for women to enter parliament, both at the national and regional levels. Once they were able to enter, those chosen actually came from political dynasties. Why is that?

1. Golden child woman

Political parties have a tendency to prioritize female candidates who have ties to political dynasties. In this case, primordial factors, such as religion, regional similarities, proximity to party leaders, are also still the main patterns in the candidate recruitment process.

The aim is to utilize the political, economic and social networks owned by candidates, so that the electability of political parties also increases. Not infrequently, the recruitment process for candidates is carried out by 'proposing'.

From this recruitment, political parties will receive high incentives. One of them is the obligation of political parties to meet the vote acquisition threshold of 4% can be fulfilled.

The dominance of recruitment of female candidates with ties to political dynasties occurs in West Sumatra. A total of six female candidates running for the 2019 Legislative Election have a background as wives of regional heads in the province. This case is in line with research findings related to the 2019 Election which shows that 28,3% or 15 of the total 53 female legislative members with political dynasty ties are related as wives of regional heads.

2. Fast track

The absence of prerequisites, such as length of membership and participation in party cadre formation, provides a fast route for nominating female candidates with ties to political dynasties. As a result, knowledge of the supporting parties and the electoral political system is not comprehensive for female candidates running for office.

This case occurred in 2019 legislative election contestation at district level, when one of the female legislative members with political dynasty ties who was elected only became a member of a political party during the self-nomination process, so she has not yet received the cadre formation process from her supporting party.

Ironically, this candidate does not yet comprehensively understand the essence of electoral politics, and considers this contestation to be merely a job registration process.

3. Numbers determine achievement

The numbering of female candidates with ties to political dynasties tends to be placed in the hat number or number at the top of the Permanent Candidate List (DCT). Strategic numbering positions align with a higher probability of selection, usually at the top or bottom number.

In the 2019 legislative election87% of the 120 elected female legislative members were placed in one of the three top positions in the DCT. More than 50% or 63 of these members were selected from the number one position in the DCT. As many as 24 or more than 50% of female legislative members in these strategic positions have ties to political dynasties.

Party elites are still the actors who determine the numbering of candidates, so that political dynasty ties to party elites alone can place a candidate in a strategic numbering position.

In addition, access to financial and political networks from dynastic ties also supports the candidate's bargaining position. Groups of candidates who are equipped with political dynastic ties, whether in relation to public officials or elite political parties (political parties), have flexibility in financial access and political networks.

Non-dynastic women were marginalized

Female candidates who do not come from dynastic ties tend to have a low bargaining power to be placed in strategic positions in each nomination process. These candidates usually do not have the freedom of economic, social and political access like candidates with dynastic ties.

For example, from the numbering aspect, this candidate is usually placed in a less strategic serial number (number three down) with a low probability of winning. Moreover, faced with the reality of running against a male candidate who has a higher position, a party leader, or an incumbent.

In the end, these candidates were excluded from electoral political contestation and were only used as 'tools' for political parties to fulfill gender quotas, in order to qualify to become election participants.

Indeed, there is no prohibition on utilizing political dynastic ties to win electoral political contestations. However, what needs to be considered is to what extent the role of female legislative members with dynastic ties influences the formation of policies with a gender perspective. It could be that female candidates with these ties are actually just pawns for masculine men's political maneuvers.

The role of political parties as gatekeeper it's very central here. If the orientation is simply to fulfill quotas without a merit system, it will be impossible to realize an electoral political process that is fair and inclusive for women.


This article was previously published on by title "What do the three presidential and vice presidential candidates fail to see regarding female workers?”. Click to read:

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