March 9, 2023
JAKARTA – As the General Elections Commission (KPU) prepares to appeal a controversial ruling that ordered it to effectively postpone the 2024 elections, it has pushed back against allegations that it failed to take the lawsuit seriously enough.
On March 2, the Central Jakarta District Court ruled in favor of a lawsuit lodged by the Prima Party that alleged the KPU had stopped it from exercising its right to field candidates for the 2024 general election. Prima, a fledgling party without any representation in the legislature, was one of five parties that failed to pass the KPU’s election approval process in November.
In its decision, the court found that Prima had been denied the opportunity to submit information required for its participation in the elections and ordered the KPU to stop all ongoing election procedures and restart the process, dictating that it should take two years, four months and seven days. This would push the elections back to 2025 at the earliest.
While the lower court ruling angered many within the government and across the political spectrum, a recently published court document has led observers to question the KPU’s commitment to defending its position.
According to the document, the KPU did not present any witnesses to the panel of judges and did not appoint a lawyer to represent it in the trial.
KPU head Hasyim Asy’ari claimed on Wednesday that he did not need to summon any witnesses to the trial because the election organizer “knew best” about Prima’s accusations.
“As the [institution] responsible for party administration and verification processes, the KPU is the most knowledgeable about these issues,” Hasyim told The Jakarta Post.
Hasyim fired back at allegations that his office had not been sufficiently serious in facing the Prima Party, saying it had confronted the party’s allegations on multiple occasions before, including at an administrative court.
“We have been sued repeatedly by Prima, [they have] taken the Elections Supervisory Agency [Bawaslu] route, the Administrative Court [PTUN] route and the [civil] court route. We have faced all of them seriously,” Hasyim said.
Soon after the district court ruling, the KPU said it would file an appeal and would go ahead with the 2024 election as scheduled. But almost a week after the ruling, the commission had yet to file the necessary motion with a higher court.
Hasyim said on Wednesday that his office will file the motion later this week.
The ruling has renewed concerns about efforts to keep President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in office beyond 2024.
The President said on Monday that his administration would back the KPU’s plan to appeal the ruling.
The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), of which Jokowi is a member, was one of a wide range of political institutions that opposed the ruling. However, some members of the ruling coalition have, in the recent past, fueled the debate over a potential election delay and the extension of the presidential term limit.