See More on Facebook

Opinion

Indonesia deserves more presidential candidates

Since the founding of the republic, we have been facing a deficit of candidates for president, forcing the nation to let authoritarianism rule over the country for more than 50 years.


Written by

Updated: June 22, 2018

The same scarcity took place when we held the 2014 presidential election, leading the nation into a clear-cut division that has left many unhealed wounds.

The same threat of polarization is creeping in, with the incumbent President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo facing a potential rematch against Prabowo Subianto in the upcoming election slated for April 19 next year. If it happens, nobody can prevent history from repeating itself: a smear campaign used in a massive, structured and systematic manner at the expense of common sense. Fake news and the exploitation of ethnic, group and religious sentiments will characterize the election once again, keeping our democracy from maturing.

The hashtag #2019gantipresiden (change the president) and more recently the so-called Beijing axis vs Mecca axis narrative only signals that Indonesia is heading for the same, if not worse, hateful political contestation.

The Jokowi administration has a share in creating the divide for proposing a high presidential threshold — 20 percent of House of Representatives seats and 25 percent of the popular vote. The House passed the provision that technically would turn the 2019 presidential election into another two-horse race or three-way-tie affair.

We have stood against the scheme from the beginning on the grounds that the threshold was no longer relevant as soon as the Constitutional Court ruled in favor of a petition demanding simultaneous legislative and presidential elections in 2014. The mechanism to set the presidential threshold for the 2019 election is flawed and hurts our logic too because it was based on the outcome of the 2014 legislative election.

The ruling coalition might claim to have won its fight for the high presidential threshold in a democratic way, but the decision and its process showed a clear disrespect for democracy. Our faith in democracy should be translated into an equal opportunity for every citizen to aspire to the presidency, provided that they meet certain requirements that are made to ensure only the best qualify.

It is due to our belief in democracy that we lend support to a group of people who are challenging the threshold in the Constitutional Court, some of whom lost in their first trial last January. In that ruling, two justices on the nine-justice panel dissented, but the new petition will throw the debate open.

In fact, the threshold has prevented alternative candidates, who may be better than existing ones, from rising, whereas real democracy provides as many choices as possible. As a big nation, Indonesia deserves more than two or three candidates.

Anything can happen to the petition, including the possibility of the court withholding the judicial review until after the General Elections Commission closes registration of presidential candidates on Aug. 10. Unless the court defies the spirit of the reform movement, however, there is no way that the presidential threshold should stay.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


The Jakarta Post
About the Author: The Jakarta Post is one of Indonesia's leading English-language daily newspapers.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Opinion

Thais wont mobilize in protest even if junta wins elections.

Thailand’s ersatz elections will not bother most Thais even if army comes back to rule. Every country has their breaking point, where corruption, abuse and living standards reach a point where people are compelled to take to the streets and demand a change. Thailand’s breaking point appears to be much higher than most. After all, a decade of political infighting, street riots, and military crackdowns has made mass protest much less palatable for the common Thai. Despite this, the military seem to be doing their utmost to push the populace to their limit. Reports from early and overseas voters tell of an election deeply flawed with spoiled ballots, discounted votes and confusing polling procedures. Some votes have been disregarded altogether, including those that voted for the Thai Raksa Chat Party who was disqualified by the Election Commission for running a princess to be p


By Cod Satrusayang
March 20, 2019

Opinion

Dialogue important after India-Pakistan crisis

As India and Pakistan wake up to the real possibilities of war, it is time to give dialogue another chance. Although the 2019 India-Pakistan standoff may have passed its immediate intensity, it is clear that the entire episode has left a slew of new worries for policymakers all over the world. It is crucial that lessons are learnt and crisis-handling procedures between the two countries put in place. Because there is no doubt that Pakistan and India were perilously close to war. In a digital age, resonating with the red noise of alternative facts fuelled by ultra-nationalisms, it was clear that the Modi regime’s need to bolster its flagging electoral ratings before an election took the Indian act of border incursion into Pakistan’s Ba


By Dawn
March 15, 2019

Opinion

Time for trusting Thai junta coming to an end

After four years of military rule, the military’s credibility is at an all time low. By the time the military holds elections on March 24, Thailand will have spent 1,767 days under military rule. During that time, dissent has been suppressed, freedom of expression has eroded, the press has been attacked publicly and privately by the government and the population will not have had a single say in matters of governance. And yet a constant mantra that the military has chanted throughout that time has been the almost paternalistic “trust me.” “Trust me, I am replacing the democratically-elected government for the good of the people.” “Trust me, we need to lessen criticism of the junta for unity’s sake.” “Trust me, this constitution is necessary to have elections.” “Trust me, we will hold an election within a year.”


By Cod Satrusayang
March 7, 2019

Opinion

Freedom’s limits

China President Xi Jinping will have to countenance a major challenge at this week’s meeting of the “Two Sessions”. China has reached a critical juncture and President Xi Jinping ~ permanently at the helm of the party and government ~ will have to countenance a major challenge at this week’s meeting of the “Two Sessions”, so-called. Thousands of delegates will congregate at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing during the two weeks of meetings of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), an advisory body. It is a measure of the brewing tension that the authorities have gone on overdrive to muffle the faintest dissent; there is for instance a public warning against what they call “over-the-top praise” and robust condemnation. While this may be concordant with traditional Communist praxis, remarkable too must be the fact that the syste


By The Statesman
March 7, 2019

Opinion

OP ED: Moon Jae-In writes about ASEAN before his visit to the region

South Korean – ASEAN ties important as Moon makes his visit to the region. Next week, I will be making state visits to Brunei, Malaysia and Cambodia. I am very pleased that ASEAN member states will be the destination of my first overseas tour this year. I extend warm greetings of friendship from the citizens of the Republic of Korea to our ASEAN friends. ASEAN always reminds me of the sea that nurtured and raised me. I grew up in Busan, the largest port city of the Republic of Korea. My parents were displaced from their hometown, and it was the inclusiveness and understanding of those who lived with the sea that took in my impoverished family. From them, I was able to learn a lesson of courage and hope that no matter how harsh the storm and waves, we can weather them if we gather our strengths. Most ASEAN member states not only lie by the sea but also possess infinite wisdom and power stemming fro


By Moon Jae In
March 6, 2019

Opinion

Sino-US clash ‘won’t get you anywhere’

Op Ed in China Daily talks about possible economic ramification of US – Chinese confrontation. A confrontational China-US relationship does not benefit anyone because the interests of the two countries are deeply interwoven, Zhang Yesui, spokesman for the annual session of the National People’s Congress, said in Beijing on Monday. Asked at a news conference about Beijing’s response to Washington’s increasingly hard-line policy toward China, Zhang said, “It won’t get you anywhere to deal with new problems in the context of globalization with a Cold War mentality.” Zhang, a former vice-minister of foreign affairs, said China has a consistent and clear policy toward the United States. China is dedicated to having a relationship based on nonconflict, nonconfrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, he said, adding that China will also firmly safeguard its s


By China Daily
March 6, 2019