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Restoring the dignity of the Constitutional Court

Tempo - April 5, 2024

Jakarta – Anies and Ganjar, along with their campaign teams, are asking the Constitutional Court to annul the victory of Prabowo and Gibran. This is an opportunity to restore the Court's honor.

The dispute over the results of the 2024 elections could be a good opportunity for the Constitutional Court to restore its dignity.

The Anies Baswedan-Muhaimin Iskandar and Ganjar Pranowo-Mahfud Md. pairings and their campaign teams have filed a legal challenge over the presidential election after the General Election Commission (KPU) announced the final vote count that resulted in the victory for Prabowo Subianto and Gibran Rakabuming Raka. They won 58.59 percent of the vote, ahead of Anies with 24.95 percent and Ganjar with 16.47 percent.

Launching a legal challenge to the election result with the Constitutional Court is the right thing to do because the two pairings that lost allege there was structural, systemic and massive fraud by the Prabowo-Gibran coalition. This legal challenge is important because it is possible that the efforts to persuade the House of Representatives (DPR) to use its right of inquiry into electoral fraud will run into a brick wall. The coalition of parties supporting Prabowo and Gibran is trying to persuade their opponents to stop the DPR using this right.

In their petition, Anies and Ganjar raise the issue of the alleged fraud in the presidential election and ask the constitutional justices to annul Prabowo and Gibran's victory, disqualify them and rerun the election. Their justification for this is that fraud began long before polling day on February 14, and was carefully orchestrated.

This fraud began with the crooked way that the Election Law was changed by the Constitutional Court to allow Gibran to run. At the time, Jokowi's oldest son was 35 years old, much younger than the minimum age of 40 years to run for the vice-presidency. Thanks to Anwar Usman – who was then Constitutional Court chief justice – the requirement was revised so that Gibran was able to become a candidate for the vice-presidency. The Constitutional Court Ethics Council found that this ruling was a violation of ethics and dismissed Anwar as chief justice.

After this, various violations took place. From the deployment of state institutions and employees to intimidation of village heads and their staff, and peaking with the massive distribution of social assistance to bring about victory for Prabowo and Gibran. Most of the Rp496.7 trillion social security funding is believed to have been used to finance social aid programs in the run up to the presidential election.

The Constitutional Court could use these violations to prove the allegations of election fraud. Handing the dispute over to the General Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu), including ruling on the case within 14 days in line with article 78 of the Constitutional Court Law, must not be used as a reason for the constitutional justices to not properly investigate this important matter.

As an independent institution with judicial power, the Constitutional Court has full authority to call important witnesses to prove whether these allegations are true or not. One of these witnesses is a regional police chief who could be questioned about an instruction to bring about victory for a particular candidate, as has been alleged by Ganjar and his camp. It is clearly impossible to expect this key witness to appear voluntarily, given that he faces possible punishment from the police.

After careful investigation, the constitutional justices should not be afraid to reach the right decision. If there is proof of structural, systemic and massive fraud, the justices could use their authority to ask that the election be held again. This ruling would not be out of the ordinary because the Court has passed similar rulings following elections for regional heads.

Another possibility is that the constitutional justices decide that the root of the problem is the illegal nomination of Gibran and violations by Jokowi to ensure victory for his son. In this case, the justices could ask for the election to be rerun after the Prabowo coalition replaces its vice-presidential candidate.

This opportunity to restore the honor of the Constitutional Court – after the damage done by Anwar Usman – is now in the hands of Chief Justice Suhartoyo and the other constitutional justices. Without resolution and courage, the dignity of the Constitutional Court will never be restored.

– Read the complete story in Tempo English Magazine

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1853496/restoring-the-dignity-of-the-constitutional-cour