The Jakarta Post
Whether or not presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and his running mate Sandiaga Uno challenge their defeat by the Joko “Jokowi” Widodo-Ma’ruf Amin ticket at the Constitutional Court, a dignified end to the bitterly contested election is the pressing agenda for the two camps for the good of the nation.
No doubt the several days of rampaging in Jakarta this week could have been avoided had the political elites lived up to expectations as true champions of democracy. Still, this by no means justifies the riots because of the state of fear they have inflicted on the public. The acts of violence, which for some have resurrected the ghost of the 1998 May riots, have left a stain on the democratic elections the country has accepted as a mechanism to choose its leader.
As a contest, an election is a zero sum game which therefore requires anyone joining the race to prepare for either defeat or victory, agony or ecstasy. But perhaps because Indonesia’s democracy so far has been largely understood as a procedure rather than a value, many electoral candidates have refused to accept the basic rule and closed the door to reconciliation when the competition is over.
Indonesian democracy, however, allows candidates to reject election results if they deem the race to be laden with fraud. While their claim is justified because the law criminalizes vote rigging, they must prove their accusations before the Constitutional Court.
Prabowo, as well as legislative candidates who have cried foul over unfavorable election results, has the right to justice. Their choice to settle their claims through the due process of law is indeed a relief as it shows their faith in the system in place.
There is no need to doubt the integrity of the Constitutional Court, despite the previous graft conviction of two court justices in the past. Chief Justice Anwar Usman has assured all the petitioners of the independence of judges who will hear election disputes. However, he underscored the need for the petitioners to present solid evidence as it would substantiate their motions.
Sandiaga told a press conference on Friday that he and Prabowo had appointed three attorneys, including former Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) deputy chief Bambang Widjojanto, to represent them in court. Not only Prabowo-Sandiaga and Jokowi-Ma’ruf, but the whole nation will follow the court hearing as a fair way to prove whether the election result is valid.
Five years ago, with a margin of over 8 million votes, Prabowo challenged his defeat by Jokowi in court, but to no avail. This time around the gap has doubled, but the chance is open, however remote, for Prabowo to convince the justices that structured, systematic and massive electoral fraud did happen.
But a court settlement will never suffice, as evident in the long-lasting acrimony between supporters of Jokowi and Prabowo. A political solution, we believe, will.
A meeting between Prabowo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla on Thursday marks a start to the conclusive solution. As President Jokowi has stated, national unity must prevail.