The Jakarta Post, Agust 24

Constitutionally, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Jusuf Kalla are respectively the legitimate president and vice president of Indonesia for 2014-2019 after the Constitutional Court on Thursday rejected the appeal filed by losing presidential ticket Prabowo Subianto and Hatta Rajasa. The verdict also marked an end to the presidential race, pending the inauguration of the new leaders on Oct. 20.

The General Elections Commission (KPU) announced on July 22 that Jokowi and Kalla won the election with 53.15 percent of the vote, against Prabowo-Hatta with 49.74 percent. But Prabowo-Hatta challenged the official vote count, citing structured, systematic and massive fraud in the election.

With a vote margin of 8.4 million (6.3 percent), there was already an initial indication that it was almost impossible for Prabowo-Hatta to prove the presence of errors in the KPU’s recapitulation. It might have been due to this difficulty that the pair chose a roundabout strategy by postulating legal violations, inconsistencies within the final voter list (DPT) and the use of citizens’ identity cards (KTP) or other cards in additional special voter lists (DPKTb). They even claimed that the DPKTb constituted a form of collusion between election organizers and candidate pair No. 2 (Jokowi-Kalla), to the detriment of Prabowo-Hatta.

The right to vote of those who are not registered on the DPT has since the 2009 presidential election been legally acknowledged. In this case, the court’s Decree No.102/PUU-VII/2009 on the review of Law No. 42/2008 stipulates that the right to vote constitutes constitutional right of citizens.

With the stipulation, Prabowo-Hatta claimed at the court hearing that Decree No.102/PUU-VII/2009 was not applicable to the presidential election of 2014. Or, in other words, the court policy could not justify the KPU’s inclusion of voters who were not registered on the DPT by means of the DPKTb. It was even indicated at the court hearing that the decision was only meant to accommodate a special condition in the 2009 presidential election.

The strategy of Prabowo-Hatta failed to convince the court’s panel of justices. In its consideration, the court affirmed that the opinion questioning the legitimacy of applying the 2009 court decree was unjustifiable. The court even stated that the DPKTb channel was a means by which the KPU protected citizens’ right to vote. And the substance of the court’s decision has frequently been used when it settled regional election disputes.

Apart from the DPKTb issue, the same strategy that was employed to oppose the KPU Regulation (PKPU) No. 9/2014 on the election and vote counting serving as the legal basis for the DPKTb was also turned down by the court. In principle, according to the court, the KPU is authorized to issue a legal product of a regulatory nature. The court also underlined that in spite of any legal problem arising, until the election on July 9, 2014, PKPU No. 9/2014 had never been revoked by the Supreme Court.

Substantially, PKPU No. 9/2014 was issued to implement the provisions of Presidential Election Law No. 42/2008. Even if the regulation had not been issued, the KPU would have ignored the voting right of citizens not included on the voter list.

By turning down all the arguments of Prabowo-Hatta, the Constitutional Court verdict not only proves the validity of the method and recapitulation of the KPU, it also confirms the victory of Jokowi-Kalla and the people’s mandate given to them.

Above all, filing a lawsuit with the court cannot serve as a shortcut to winning an election. What is more fundamental is that with the court verdict, the claim that the 2014 presidential election was laden with fraud and manipulation was totally unproven. It means the verdict attests to the democratic nature of the 2014 presidential election.

Many expected the court verdict to put an end to the objections to the election result. We remember that, when quick counts revealed Jokowi and Kalla won, Prabowo-Hatta said they would await the KPU’s vote recapitulation. But when the official vote count was announced, Prabowo-Hatta opted to challenge the result at the court.

Sadly, since the court delivered its verdict, the public has not heard Prabowo and Hatta congratulate Jokowi and Kalla.

In fact, with a presidential race that split the nation, Prabowo and Hatta have ample opportunity to unify the people and restore the situation. Many circles have imagined that as there are no more chances to legally question the KPU recapitulation, Prabowo-Hatta will accept the victory of Jokowi-Kalla and congratulate them. More than that, Prabowo-Hatta are also expected to call on the public, including their supporters, to unite behind Jokowi-Kalla for a better future for Indonesia.

In more mature democracies, it is common for a losing presidential candidate to congratulate the winner.

At home, Prabowo-Hatta can learn from politicians who have the heart to accept election results. For instance, then-incumbent Jakarta governor Fauzi Bowo managed to create a calm atmosphere by congratulating his rival Jokowi after quick counts showed the former Surakarta mayor beat him in the Jakarta gubernatorial election in 2012, so did Central Java governor Bibit Waluyo when he lost to Ganjar Pranowo. Both Fauzi and Bibit called on their supporters to accept the outcomes.

 

Now Prabowo-Hatta should at least play a crucial role in the transition to the inauguration day of the new president and vice president on Oct. 20. Therefore, all their desires to pursue other legal and political moves to question the presidential election outcome should end. In so doing, Prabowo-Hatta would at least show how to respect the president and vice president chosen by the people.