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Outrage after court orders election delay in favor of unknown party

Jakarta Globe - March 3, 2023

Jakarta – Top government and political party officials reacted angrily after a district court in Jakarta on Thursday ordered a delay in the historic 2024 general elections in a ruling favoring a newly-established party that fails to qualify for the poll.

The Central Jakarta District Court has accepted a lawsuit by the People's Justice Prosperous Party, or Prima, against the General Election Commission (KPU) seeking a repeat of the selection process after the party was disqualified for failing to meet requirements.

The court argued that the KPU decision was unfairly made against Prima and ordered the commission to halt the current phase of the election and return to the initial phase, namely the verification process.

It orders the KPU "to halt executing the remaining phase of the 2024 general elections since the day the verdict is read out and to carry out the initial phase of the general elections for two years, four months, and seven days."

Simply wrong

Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Mohamad Mahfud MD asked the KPU to immediately challenge the ruling. "Why? Because a district court has no authority to issue such a ruling," Mahfud wrote on his Instagram account.

"The Central Jakarta District Court has made too much of a sensation. How come the KPU lost to a party in a civil case handled by a district court?" he added.

"The ruling is wrong, and the logic is so simple it can be easily overturned, but still, the verdict may stir controversy and disrupt our concentration. Some may politicize the issue as if the verdict was legitimate."

The former Constitutional Court chief justice explained that the pre-election dispute concerning a party's qualification can only be settled through the General Election Oversight Body (Bawaslu) and the State Administrative Court (PTUN).

"The Prima Party has lost in both the Bawaslu and the PTUN," Mahfud stressed. Moreover, a district court cannot transform an election dispute into a civil case and use it against the KPU, the minister said.

PDI-P's response

The ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) urged the KPU to continue with the current phase of the election regardless of the controversial ruling.

Chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri remains committed to following the election phase as scheduled and is of the opinion that the district court has no authority to alter the election phase, PDI-P Secretary-General Hasto Kristiyanto said in a statement.

"The Central Jakarta District Court has no authority whatsoever to try a dispute concerning the selection of political parties as the participants of the general elections," Hasto said.

"The KPU's decision to appeal the ruling is correct and gets the full support of the PDI-P."

The politician also expressed curiosity that the district court felt compelled to meddle in the election dispute knowing that it has no right to do so.

The PDI-P is asking court watchdog the Judicial Commission to investigate the panel of judges over suspected abuse of power, he added.

Comprising Presiding Judge T Oyong, Judge H Bakri, and Judge Dominggus Silaban, the panel accepted the lawsuit filed on December 8 by Prima Chairman Agus Priyono and Secretary-General Dominggus Oktavianus Tobu.

Against constitution

Even election observers were shocked by the ruling, which could write off years of hard work by election officials in the run-up to the colossal elections in which the president, regional leaders, and legislative members of all levers will be elected in the same year for the first time in history.

If implemented, the ruling will put a lengthy delay on the whole process beyond the 2024 deadline.

"Holding general elections every five years is mandated by the Constitution so the court ruling is unlikely [to be implemented]. It's simply against the 1945 Constitution," Titi Anggraini, the executive director of the Association for Election and Democracy, or Perludem, told reporters.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/outrage-after-court-orders-election-delay-in-favor-of-unknown-part