KPU urges political parties to withdraw ex-graft convicts from legislative elections

The call from General Elections Commission comes following a Supreme Court ruling that effectively makes a five-year waiting period mandatory for all former graft convicts.

Nur Janti

Nur Janti

The Jakarta Post


An official seals a ballot box for the 2019 elections at the warehouse of the Madiun General Elections Commission (KPU Madiun) in East Java in this undated photo. PHOTO: ANTARA/ THE JAKARTA POST

October 5, 2023

JAKARTA – The General Elections Commission (KPU) has called on political parties to withdraw ineligible ex-corruption convicts from its provisional list of candidates for next year’s legislative elections following a Supreme Court ruling that effectively makes a five-year waiting period mandatory for all former graft convicts.

“The KPU has sent a letter to all political parties participating in the elections urging them to follow the ruling,” KPU commissioner Idham Kholik told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday. “I believe that political parties are already well aware of the ruling.”

The court ruling was issued last week when the KPU was still assessing the eligibility of all registered legislative candidates vying for seats in the national and local legislatures next year. The KPU will announce the results early next month.

At least one political party has already removed its candidates who were no longer eligible to stand following the ruling from the KPU’s provisional list, Idham said, without revealing names or the party.

The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) said on Monday that it would pull one candidate from the race, while the Gerindra Party said last month that it had already canceled the candidacies of two politicians who were former corruption convicts, reported.

Read also: Political dynasties, graft leniency loom over 2024 elections

The Supreme Court annulled on Friday two provisions in two KPU regulations on the eligibility of candidates running in the 2024 national and regional legislative elections.

The revoked provisions initially allowed former graft convicts, who had their right to run for public office temporarily stripped by the courts, to register as candidates once their political rights had been returned.

Under these provisions, those former convicts were not required to wait five years after their release from prison before their political parties could sign them up as legislative candidates but a potentially shorter period stipulated by the court – unlike those whose convictions did not temporarily strip them of the right to run for public office who would have to wait the full five years.

With the revocation of these provisions, all former graft convicts without exception must now wait for five years after being released from prison before standing for elections.

The bench, presided by Justice Yulius, described the provisions in question as “lacking commitment to eradicating corruption”.

The court ruled in favor of four petitioners: civil groups the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem) and the Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), and former Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) commissioners Abraham Samad and Saut Situmorang, who all feared that the provisions would make it easier for ex-corruption convicts to run for legislative elections next year.

Read also: KPU denies backroom deal on controversial rules for legislative elections

The court held that imposing the universal five-year waiting period was necessary “to deter corruption” and provide “sufficient time for all former graft convicts to reflect on their mistakes”, according to a copy of the ruling obtained by the Post.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court also ordered the KPU to remove the provisions in question, saying that election organizers were expected to screen credible candidates with high integrity by imposing strict requirements.

The bench said the provisions had contradicted the 2017 Elections Law and two Constitutional Court rulings in 2022 and 2023, all of which stipulate that the five-year waiting period is applicable to all ex-corruption convicts without exception.

The petitioners were quick to applaud the ruling, with Fadil Ramdhanil of Perludem saying the KPU must immediately remove candidates who placed their bids before their five-year waiting period ended.

A report released by the ICW in August found that at least 39 former graft convicts were on the KPU’s provisional list of nominees. It remains unclear, however, whether names in the ICW report are eligible to run.

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