The Jakarta Post
The Constitutional Court's decision to delay the implementation of a ruling that effectively scraps the electoral threshold for parties to field presidential nominees has been seen as benefiting the Golkar Party and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).
The ruling, which declares holding the presidential election and legislative election on separate dates as unconstitutional, thus rendering the threshold irrelevant, has drawn protests from the smaller parties that have long demanded the threshold be scrapped.
With political parties required to gain 25 percent of the popular vote or control 20 percent of the legislative seats to field a candidate in this year's election, chances remain slim for smaller parties to join the presidential race in July.
Political analyst Gun Gun Heryanto said, after seeing the results of recent political surveys, it was very likely that the upcoming election would be a three-horse race.
'It remains the same. The first ticket will be grabbed by Golkar Party's Aburizal Bakrie and the second ticket by PDI-P's Megawati or Jokowi,' he said on Friday, referring to PDI-P chairperson Megawati Soekarnoputri and Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo.
According to the latest opinion polls, the PDI-P and Golkar would garner more than 15 percent of the popular vote, indicating they would have better bargaining power when forming an alliance.
The smaller parties ' such as the People's Conscience (Hanura) Party, the Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party and the Islamic parties ' will have to compete to get the third ticket, Gun Gun said.
Hanura has nominated its chairman, Wiranto, while Gerindra has been campaigning for its chief patron, Lt. Gen. (ret.) Prabowo Subianto. Other hopefuls include Hatta Rajasa from the National Mandate Party (PAN), Yusril Ihza Mahendra of the Crescent Star Party (PBB) and former court chief justice Mahfud MD, who could be nominated by his former party, the National Awakening Party (PKB).
According to many political surveys, Prabowo is the most likely candidate to win after Jokowi, but his party's approval rating remains far below the PDI-P's at around 10 percent.
'The main battle is now among the middle-tier parties for the third slot. I predicted it would be between Prabowo and Mahfud. However, Wiranto is now being seen as a worthy contender. He could join the fray for the third ticket with some logistical help from media tycoon Hary Tanoesoedibyo.'
Gerindra deputy chairman Fadli Zon said his party was still upbeat about fielding Prabowo.
'We are ready for any rulings issued by the court. Since the beginning, we have aimed to garner more than 20 percent of the vote,' he said, as quoted by tribunnews.com. 'If we fail to achieve our target, we will form an alliance with other political parties to meet the threshold.'
Fadli, however, questioned why the court issued the ruling at the 11th hour and decided to delay its implementation to avoid disrupting the ongoing preparations for this year's elections.
The petition to challenge the 2008 Presidential Election Law was filed by political communication expert Effendi Gazali, in January last year and the court, then led by Mahfud, reached a decision on the case in March.
Yusril, who filed a similar judicial review petition, has said the ruling should have taken effect immediately as the constitutionality of the results of the 2014 elections would otherwise be questionable.
He accused the court of meddling with politics, saying that people often linked his petition to the fact that Hamdan Zoelva, the court's chief justice, is a former PBB lawmaker, while the court's ruling showed it was not the case. 'Why don't people suspect Akil, as a former Golkar politician, of delaying the ruling's announcement?' he asked, referring to former chief justice Akil Mochtar, who was arrested last year on graft charges.
Hanura lawmaker Syarifuddin Sudding also slammed the court for ruling that concurrent elections would begin in 2019. 'The losing parties in the 2014 elections will certainly dispute this,' he said.
Golkar and the PDI-P have lauded the ruling, saying the court made a 'wise' decision, as delaying the April legislative election would cause political instability.