The Association for Elections and Democracy (Perkumpulan untuk Pemilu dan Demokrasi/Perludem) has been managing the Election and Democracy journal since 2012 which is named the Journal of Elections and Democracy. The purpose of making this journal is to publish the results of research and advocacy that have been done by Perludem. Until now, Perludem has produced a total of 11 journal publications. The journal that has been developed by Perludem is still in the national scope. Most of the parties involved in the writing of this journal are Perludem researchers, civil society activists and election organizers.
Perludem intends to develop the Election and Democracy Journal into a regional journal with more academic aspects. The hope is that this regional journal will become a forum for academics, study centers at universities, civil society, and election organizers to be able to contribute their writing in this journal. This was gradually realized by the existence of the Asia-Pacific Regional Support for Elections and Political Transitions (Respect) program which was managed by Perludem with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It is hoped that this regional publication will be useful for researchers, academics, and civil society to provide recommendations and references for improving electoral governance and democratic and political processes in the Asia and Pacific Region. In the process of managing this regional journal, Perludem is assisted by the Djokosoetono Research Center (DRC), Faculty of Law, University of Indonesia.
For this first edition we chose the theme political finance in the region. This theme is chosen because money has an important role in the political system of democracy. Money has a role in enabling political parties to run their organizations, including carrying out the three main functions of parties, namely as political parties in the grass root, parties in the central office, and parties in the public office. In addition, parties also play a role as an intermediary agent that connects constituents and also the state through the electoral arena. In the election stages, for example, political parties need money in order to carry out campaign activities to obtain voter votes. Even if money is not enough, money means a lot to the success of the campaign because the campaign has an influence on the election results and the campaign will not run without money (Jacobson 1980: 33). Meanwhile, outside the electoral stage, political parties use money to provide political education, political recruitment, to the aggregation and articulation of interests.
On the other hand, the use of money in politics often has a negative side effect on the quality of a country’s democracy. Political corruption, transparency, and accountability in reporting are the main problems of the use of money in politics which have an impact on the decline of democracy. Whereas in a democratic political system, openness and transparency in various political activities are important aspects that are always prioritized, especially in the management and use of political funds carried out by political parties as the main actors of democracy.
The agenda for reforming political party financial governance has become one of the important discourses that have long been discussed and is still being carried out to this day. However, the question is, how can reforms in political party financial governance be carried out? This question can be answered by reading the design of political party financial arrangements and mapping and analyzing political party financial governance problems first.
These questions are trying to be answered in the articles in this journal. In this journal, there are 5 articles written by academics from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Timor Leste. The first article was written by Dr. Deasy Simanjuntak entitled Political Financing and Its Impact on the Quality of Democracy in Southeast Asia. This paper discusses the quality of democracy in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar by looking at the existing political financing in these countries. The second article entitled The Urgency to Prevent Illicit Political Party Fundraising Through The Anti-Money Laundering Regime in Indonesia by Nathalina Naibaho, Patricia Rinwigati, and Ahmad Ghozi discusses the existence of a legal vacuum related to limitation of donations in Indonesia which can encourage the potential for money laundering practices, so that its importance there is a legal framework to prevent this. The third article entitled Conceptualizing Party Finance Legislation in Malaysia: Between Normative and Reality written by Azmil Tayeb and Dineskumar Ragu raises the issue that political finance is not ideally regulated in Malaysia because there is no specific legal framework that addresses this. This has led to a number of corruption cases related to political finance. So it is important to encourage regulations that can promote transparency and accountability of political parties. The fourth article entitled A Disproportionality Unequal Playing Field: Challenges to Prospects for Campaign Finance Law and Policy in the Philippines was written by Patricia Blardony Miranda. This paper raises the issue of transparency and accountability of campaign finance to see the equality of playing field for election participants. And the last article entitled Examining the Level of Accountability and Transparency with Respect to Political Party Financing in Timor Leste written by Celso da Fonseca and Joel Mark Baysa-Barredo raises the issue of the importance of accountable and transparent governance for a newly independent country like Timor Leste.
These articles provide an overview of the situation in the development of democracy in Southeast Asia in terms of political finance. Finally, we hope that these articles can further generate discussion among academics, election activists, researchers on the issue of ideal democratic governance, especially for the Southeast Asia region and in general for the Asia Pacific region. Happy reading!