Criticising court election dispute ruling, activists call for a people's opposition

CNN Indonesia – April 24, 2024
Protest action in front of General Elections Commission office in Yogyakarta – April 24, 2024 (CNN)

Yogyakarta – Scores of people from an alliance of several civil society groups held a protest action in front of the General Elections Commission (KPU) offices in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta on Wednesday April 24.

They were voicing concerns over the April 22 ruling by the Constitutional Court (MK) which rejected a legal challenge against the results of the 2024 presidential election.

Based on this ruling, on Wednesday the KPU officially declared presidential candidate ticket number 2, Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto and President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo son Gibran Rakabuming Raka, as the winners of the election.

The protesters who held the demonstration in front of the KPU offices were comprised of the Gejayan Calling (Gejayan Memanggil) group, the Sejagad coalition, the Cik Ditiro Forum and Don't be Silent and Fight (Jangan Diam dan Lawan). During the action they also called for the establishment of a people's opposition movement.

Amnesty International Executive Director Usman Hamid and Indonesian International Transparency (TII) Secretary General Danang Widoyoko were also seen taking part in the action.

For the protesters, the Constitutional Court's ruling rejecting the legal challenge against the elections was not just significant for Prabowo, Rakabuming Raka and President Widodo's political dynasty, but also sign of the impending death of Indonesian democracy.

"We now know that Jokowi is the father of Indonesia's political dynasty, but Gibran, [his youngest son] Kaesang [Pangarep], even [Kaesang's son] Jan Ethes have the potential to become fathers of Indonesia's political dynasty", cried one of the speakers in front of the KPU office.

The protesters arrived at the KPU offices at 2 pm and put up a number of banners at the entrance to the building with messages such as "People's Democracy" and "Build a People's Opposition".

There were also posters with messages such as "Post the MK ruling it's time for the people to unite. Unite with fascism & nepotism? Ora Sudi! [Javanese, meaning not ready or don't need]", alluding to Prabowo's public call for the people to unite following the Constitutional Court ruling.

NasDem and Widodo's social assistance

The alliance considers that Widodo's administration committed serious crimes during the 2024 elections and accused the government of changing legal products as they please in order to smooth the way for Rakabuming Raka to become a government official, referring to the October 16 Constitutional Court ruling that lowered the minimum age limit required to be nominated as a presidential or vice presidential candidate.

They also alluded to the allocation of social assistance (bansos) that was used in campaigns and the conditioning government officials to assist in the victory of the power dynasty.

"Why are we insisting on building a people's opposition, because there are no political parties that are serious about building an opposition. NasDem [the National Democrat Party] that backed [loosing presidential candidate] Anies (Baswedan) can now be seen starting to move closer (to the coalition of the presidential election winner)", said another speaker.

Meanwhile Widoyoko said that the Constitutional Court's ruling should not to be accepted as a defeat, but as a warning to work harder to defend democracy that should be fought for by the political parties.

"Actually, democracy is not our job, but the duty of the political parties. But what happened, right after the elections, the NasDem Party met with Prabowo, this is a fact. Experts call this cartel politics, ultimately they are seeking access to rentierism, how to gain power, [access to] budgets, contracts, concessions", said Widoyoko.

Danang also noted that social assistance comes from the people's taxes which is decided on by all political party entities and intended for the poor or less well off. He said he opposes the use of labels on social aid as assistance from the president, and especially when it is misused for electoral interests.

"This is a day of warning, we must return to the essence of democracy, not to the political parties, but to the mandate giver, namely the ordinary people", he cried.

Failure to understand meaning of nepotism

In a speech meanwhile, Hamid said that the Constitutional Court failed to understand the meaning of nepotism when the majority of judges stated there were no strong legal grounds to show that the practice occurred in the 2024 presidential election process.

Hamid quoted the term nepotism from the Britannica Dictionary, where it explains that the word was born in the 14 and 15 centuries. The word is taken from the Latin "nepos" which means nephew. While in Italian, "nipote" means grandchild.

Political nepotism became an issue when one of the heads of the Catholic Church in Rome at that time appointed his own nephew and grandchildren as cardinals.

"My question is, if indeed there was no nepotism in the elections that have recently been held, it means that there was no nephew who gained political benefits, correct, no? The question is, was there? And unfortunately, this was not seen by the Constitutional Court, even just reading the Britannica Dictionary, the majority failed", Hamid said, referring to Rakabuming Raka who is the nephew of former Constitutional Court chief justice Anwar Usman.

"The Britannica Dictionary gives an example of what nepotism is, not just with past examples, but also gives examples of nepotistic administrations in the modern era. An example is [former Indonesian] president Suharto. If we read the dictionary, president Suharto is given as an example by the dictionary of the practice of nepotism when his six children controlled BUMN [state-owned enterprises] or state resources", he added.

The Constructional Court judges were considered to have negated the anti-nepotism voices conveyed by the amicus curiae (friends of the court) documents submitted by a number of college professors.

Aside from this, Hamid said he still appreciates the three Constitutional Court judges, namely Saldi Isra, Enny Nurbaningsih and Arief Hidayat, who had the courage to hand down dissenting opinions. They acknowledged that there was electoral fraud in the midst of the problematic ruling by the majority of the Constitutional Court judges. (kum/kid)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Gejayan Memanggil dkk Demo Putusan MK soal Pilpres di Depan KPU DIY".]