APSN Banner

Election conspiracy

Jakarta Post Editorial - March 6, 2023

Jakarta – The court's ruling ordering the General Elections Commission (KPU) to restart the entire process of preparing the legislative and presidential elections originally scheduled for February 2024 fits a pattern that we have seen in the last two years or so: Delay the election and hence allow incumbent President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to stay in power beyond October 2024.

Whoever is behind this scheme has tried different ways but failed. They sought to amend the constitution to allow the president to serve a third term, and failed. They moved to mobilize public support for their campaign to extend the president's term, but there was little support. This latest move is more cunning, using a court of law to help its cause and hence give it a sense of legality.

The Central Jakarta District Court on Thursday ruled in favor of the Prima Party, a small political party that contested KPU's decision to delist it from the 2024 legislative elections for not meeting the minimum requirements. The court ordered the KPU to drop all preparations for the elections, and to "restart the process for around two years, four months and seven days, from the day of this decision." This means the elections can only be held in July 2025 at the earliest.

This is a sly move as, contrary to what the media are reporting, the court did not specifically order the KPU to postpone the election. Instead, the delay is a consequence of the verdict, so the court can wash its hands and shift all blame on the KPU for not doing its job properly.

Prima is one of dozens of new political parties that last year failed to register for the 2024 elections with the KPU because they did not fulfill the minimum requirement of representations in the regions when registration closed. It has since contested the KPU decision, initially to the Election Supervisory Body (Bawaslu), then to the Jakarta Administrative Court, before coming to the Central Jakarta District Court, which this week ruled in its favor.

The party was founded by activists of the now defunct left-leaning People's Democratic Party (PRD), in 2021. Its chief patron Maj. Gen (ret) Gautama Wiranegara is a former intelligence officer.

President Jokowi has repeatedly washed his hands from the campaigns to keep him in power, saying he will step down when the time comes, and that the 2024 elections will continue as planned. He has not spoken about this latest campaign waged on his behalf, but not only does he have a plausible denial, but he can also say he would not interfere with the law.

Many in his inner circle are behind some of the past campaigns, arguing that Jokowi needs to see through some of his legacies, including in particular the initial construction of Nusantara, a brand-new city built out of a forest in East Kalimantan, which will become the nation's capital replacing Jakarta. He never publicly condemned these campaigns, at one time even suggesting that this is a legitimate aspiration that should be respected in a democracy.

The capital project was never popular with the public, but Jokowi secured political support from the seven political parties in his coalition government that controls 80 percent of the seats in the House of Representatives. There are concerns that Jokowi's successor in 2024, whoever that may be, may scrap the new capital project. Hence the need for him to stay on.

Reactions against the court's decision have been strong and swift, saying that it violated the constitution. Constitutional law experts such as Jimly Asshiddiqie called for the dismissal of the three judges in the panel while Yusril Ihza Mahendra said the case should have been tried in a civil rather than a criminal court and that the verdict was not binding. Jaleswari Pramodhawardani from the Presidential Office asked the KPU to continue with the election preparations.

The KPU says it will appeal against the decision. Even assuming that the High Court rules for the KPU, the original decision has already done its job in casting doubts about the integrity and credibility of the electoral agency.

What happens now is anybody's guess. But whoever is behind this latest campaign must surely have more tricks up their sleeve.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/opinion/2023/03/05/election-conspiracy.htm