Jakarta Trio Challenge Need for Election Runoff
Markus Junianto Sihaloho, Ezra Sihite & Ronna Nirmala
Three Jakarta residents lodged a request on Friday with the Constitutional Court for a judicial review of a law that requires candidates for governor in the capital to gain a greater share of votes than their counterparts in other parts of the country in order to be elected.
The 2007 Law on the Jakarta Capital Special Region stipulates that gubernatorial elections must go to a runoff vote if no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote. The requirement conflicts with the 2008 Law on Regional Elections, which stipulates that a runoff vote should only be held if no candidate gets more than 30 percent of the vote.
Although official results of Wednesday’s election have yet to be announced by the Jakarta General Elections Commission (KPUD), exit polls by survey firms indicated that there would be a runoff between the incumbent governor, Fauzi Bowo, and Joko Widodo.
“As citizens, we want the budget for the runoff vote to be directed elsewhere, to tackle poverty or health care,” said Muhammad Sholeh, the lawyer for plaintiffs Mohamad Huda, A. Havid Permana and Satrio F. Damardjati.
Joko garnered 43 percent of the vote on Wednesday, according to the exit polls, while Fauzi received 34 percent.
Even if the court annuls the 50 percent requirement, Joko is unlikely to be automatically declared the election winner since Constitutional Court rulings cannot be applied retroactively.
Fauzi said he was not worried about the judicial review despite the possibility that he could automatically lose to Joko.
“I say go ahead [with the review]. We are just following existing laws and regulations,” the governor said.
Ganjar Pranowo, a member of the House of Representatives, said the review was long overdue.
“Every citizen has the right to put a regulation to the test. I think a ruling from the court will end the prolonged controversy,” the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician said.
“If the review is granted, it will alter the course of the [gubernatorial] election.”
Irman Putra Sidin, a state administrative law expert, said the plaintiffs has a rational argument, but common sense alone was not enough to get legislation revoked by the Constitutional Court.
“[The plaintiffs] must turn their reasoning into a solid legal argument. Only then will their efforts bear fruit,” he said.
But Golkar Party lawmaker Agun Gunanjar Sudarsa sees things differently.
“[Jakarta] is special and that is stipulated in our Constitution, so automatically [Jakarta] needs a special set of rules for electing its leaders,” he said.
“If someone wants to challenge this, as long as they do it without setting things on fire, it is fine by me.”
Another legal expert, Margarito Kamis, said that the plaintiffs had a weak case.
“[The Jakarta] law is a special law that applies specifically to Jakarta,” he said.
“For example, mayors in Jakarta are appointed, not elected [like in other cities across the country].”