April 14, 2023
JAKARTA – The General Elections Commission (KPU) has remained optimistic that it will not suffer another defeat against a fresh civil lawsuit filed by the Berkarya Party following the election organizer’s win in the higher court that overturned a controversial ruling to delay the 2024 general election.
Relying on the precedent established in Prima Party’s recent controversial legal win, another small party, Berkarya, filed a similar civil lawsuit last week to the Central Jakarta District Court. Berkarya demanded the upcoming election be postponed until they are allowed to resubmit their application and declared eligible to contest for the upcoming elections.
The district court had previously stunned the nation when in early March it sided with Prima, an obscure party that said it had been denied the chance to contest the 2024 polls, and ordered the KPU to halt and restart all election procedures in two years, four months and seven days.
Deciding on an appeal lodged by the KPU, the Jakarta High Court on Tuesday overturned the lower court’s controversial ruling, arguing the lower court had overstepped its jurisdiction and had no authority to make the decision. Election disputes, the high court said, could only be managed by the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) and the Jakarta State Administrative Court (PTUN) instead and noted the latter two institutions had already rejected the same lawsuit.
KPU chairman Hasyim Asy’ari said on Wednesday that the KPU’s win in its appeal against the controversial ruling should serve as a reminder that election disputes are not within the jurisdiction of civil courts.
“The high court’s ruling has served as a correction to the Central Jakarta District Court’s decision,” he said. “So anyone who would file a lawsuit over political parties’ eligibility [to contest in the upcoming election] to the district court should have this clear that such a matter is not within the jurisdiction of [civil court route at the] general courts.”
“Actions against the law committed by government officials or government agencies are not within the jurisdiction of these courts,” he added.
Berkarya wanted to contest the 2024 election, but its journey ended midway through the process late last year after the KPU declared it ineligible. The party participated in the 2019 legislative election but did not get enough votes to send representatives to the House of Representatives.
Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD has also welcomed the high court’s ruling, saying that he hoped the KPU will be in a better spirit to hold the upcoming elections as scheduled.
“All parties now must concentrate on the 2024 election, which will remain on the initial schedule […] Even though there is still a possibility of cassation appeal [at the Supreme Court], but in substance it has been proven that general courts cannot waive the schedule of the general elections,” he said.
The delaying of the polls has renewed concerns about efforts to keep President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in power beyond his second term, which ends in 2024, as some of his allies have advocated.