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Prepping steps for presidential term extension

Tempo - September 12, 2022

Imam Hamdi (Koran Tempo), Jakarta – The talks of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's third term have ignited again. In the midst of rising fuel prices, volunteer groups voiced support for Jokowi to serve a third term in office. They claim the call a public aspiration. Other groups and the House of Representatives (DPR) considered it an excessive move and violated the constitution. The idea, however, kept buzzing as it is deemed profitable for Jokowi.

This report was supported by the Association for the Development of Nusantara Media (PPMN) in tandem with the Asia-Pacific Regional Support for Elections and Political Transitions (RESPECT) and was part of the collaboration program with Jaring (Indonesia), Philippines Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), dan Lafaek News (Timor Leste).

Support for Jokowi's third term came out at a people's conference in Bandung at the end of last August. Supporters wished the presidential term in office to be extended albeit limited to two terms by the constitution.

Talks of Jokowi's third term had been long forgotten. Yet it has ignited again recently. A number of Jokowi's supporters voiced their support for the presidential term extension although the constitution limits it to a maximum of two terms.

The support was declared in the first People's Conference or Musra initiated by a supporter group for Jokowi, Projo, in Arcamanik Sports Hall, Bandung, West Java, on August 28, 2022. "We recognize people's aspirations supporting Jokowi's third term," said the chairperson of Projo, Budi Arie Setiadi, on Thursday.

Some 5,721 people from various elements attended the conference, choosing presidential candidates for the 2024 General Elections. Jokowi received the highest votes totaling 1,704 or 29,79 percent.

Right after Jokowi, Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno came in second with 968 votes, and the third was Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo with 921 votes. Other figures receiving the vote were Gerindra chief patron Prabowo Subianto in the fourth position, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan in the fifth position, and West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil in the sixth position.

Budie Arie stated that after the first conference in Bandung, Projo was determined to hold similar agenda in other provinces. The first conference's result was deemed a reflection of people's wishes for Jokowi to run again as a presidential candidate. "On our stance, we'll wait for the forum in 34 provinces," he said.

Earlier this year, the discourse of Jokowi's term extension was brought up by the Investment Minister-cum-Head of the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) Bahlil Lahadalia. According to him, the business community hoped that the 2024 General Elections to be postponed until 2027.

"Among business people, most of them think of the democratic process. In the context of a leadership transition, if there is room for consideration to delay the process, that will be much better," said Bahlil in the Political Indicators survey findings, quoted last January 10.

The support kept growing. At least three political party chairs joined in buzzing the talk. They were the National Awakening Party (PKB) chair Muhaimin Iskandar, Golkar Party chair Airlangga Hartarto, and the National Mandate Party (PAN) chair Zulkifli Hasan. Apart from political parties, the Indonesian Village Government Association (Apdesi) shared the same support. The association's chairperson, Surta Wijaya, planned to declare support for Jokowi's third term, yet it has not been realized by far.

The support for presidential term extension among Jokowi's supporter groups, however, was not solid. Other volunteer groups backing Jokowi, National Secretariat or Seknas, rejected the idea, slamming the emergence of such support at the Bandung conference. "We don't know why it happened, too," said the Seknas chairperson, Rambun Tjajo.

According to him, the Bandung conference was initiated by Projo. Seknas willingly joined the conference just because they made an agreement prior to the agenda; not to present presidential and vice presidential candidates. "We agreed to bring up programs only," he said. "But during the conference, [names of presidential candidates] were presented."

Rambun argued that Jokowi's supporter groups should not create public opinions related to presidential candidates ahead of the 2024 General Elections because Jokowi's name would obviously stand in the top rank. "If this happened, the President might not be in a good position as he is somewhat pushed [to serve the third term]," he said.

Silfester Matutina, the chairperson of another supporter group Merah Putih Solidarity, backed Rambun's statement. He recalled that in the initial agreement, the conference would not present the results of polls related to the presidential and vice presidential candidates. "The deal was made with Jokowi in the meeting at Bogor Palace on July 29. "The President did not want such an agenda," he added.

Silfester revealed the detail of the meeting at Bogor Palace. At first, two members of the Musra committee presented the concept of the conference to the President. Projo Secretary General Handoko submitted plans to announce the names of presidential candidates based on the survey results. The President instantly made a response. "This is like a support declaration for a presidential candidate, I will not be okay with the parties later," said Silfester, imitating Jokowi's words.

The chairman of the Musra Steering Committee, Andi Gani Nena Wea, then raised his hand to rectify Handoko's proposal. "It was agreed that it would not be announced," said Silfester.

He rebutted the issue that Jokowi was the initiator of Musra. Instead, the President initially refused the event and just found out about it at the July 29 meeting. "But, in the end, the President perhaps had other considerations that the event was aimed at uniting the volunteers," Silfester explained. "He thus attended the event".

The chairman of the Musra Committee, Panel Barus, confirmed that there was an initial agreement not to announce the names of presidential candidates during the conference as it was feared it would affect similar events that would be held in 33 provinces. "Suggestions that the names of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates should not be presented have come from many parties and those indeed make sense," said the Secretary General of Projo.

According to the panel, the decision to announce the names of presidential candidates was made in a sudden manner. A number of committee members and participants gathered in one room to discuss the results of the conference. President Jokowi and the First Lady were in the same room, by chance. The discussion rolled on. The committee spontaneously expressed its desire to declare the results of the conference. "How come a conference has no conclusion," he said.

Hearing the request, Jokowi gave his approval. "Oh, that's good. Go on," said the Panel quoting Jokowi's answer. The state head even appreciated his supporter groups that accommodated the aspirations of the people, including about the third presidential term.

"This is the people's forum. People are allowed to voice their views right? It shouldn't be a problem if someone speaks of three terms. That is just a discourse. Anyone is allowed to state their opinion," said Jokowi in his opening speech. He also emphasized that he would always bow to the constitution which limits the presidential term of office. "Once again, I will always bow to the constitution and the people's will."

According to Utje Gustaf Patty, chairperson of President Jokowi Volunteer Line (Bara JP), the result of the meeting will become the organization's fundamental reason to continue backing Jokowi in running again as a presidential candidate. In spite of widespread defiance, he still clinched hope for Jokowi's longer presidential term. "Because that will be his destiny. It is destined in history. He will not hold office only for 10 years."

Populi Center senior researcher, Usep S. Ahyar, said the idea of extending Jokowi's position in power to the third presidential term must be rejected. If not, it will only motivate Jokowi to political intricacies. "Because they are currently in power," Usep said.

He argued that President Jokowi, along with his supporters, must listen to the voices of the people in limiting the presidential term to two terms, as the constitution mandates. Article 7 of the 1945 Constitution (UUD) regulates the term in office for a president and vice president to two terms and cannot be elected again.

Jokowi, he said, must show assertiveness in stopping the campaign for the third presidential term from his supporters. Moreover, Usep added, Jokowi still has the desire to lead again if a loophole in the constitution arises. "They have a plethora of interests they intend to preserve, such as the construction of the new capital city and political relations," he said.

Andalas University director of Constitutional Study, Feri Amsari, viewed that it would be impossible that the campaign to extend the presidential term exclusively comes of Jokowi's volunteers and his environment. Amsari believes that the public discourse, to this day, persists because Jokowi wants his term to be extended. "The President should not let his supporters continue to argue on something that is a violation of the constitution," he explained. "Why is the issue remain? Because the President himself allegedly wants it and is managing it."

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1633162/prepping-steps-for-presidential-term-extensio