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Jakarta Post

Constitutional Court starts hearing hundreds of election disputes

  • Ina Parlina

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, May 24, 2014   /  09:56 am

The Constitutional Court opened on Friday the hearings into 871 disputes pertaining to the legislative election for seats in the House of Representatives (DPR) and the Regional Legislative Councils (DPRDs).

The Golkar Party has filed the most complaints, comprising 131 cases from various electoral districts in 26 provinces.

Of Golkar'€™s 131 cases, which came second in the legislative election with 14.75 percent of the vote, 38 petitions are based on results in Papua.

Golkar is followed by the Hanura Party, which filed 91 cases from 24 provinces, while the ruling Democratic Party filed 82 cases from 24 provinces.

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), which won the legislative election with 18.95 percent of votes, filed only 19 cases from 10 provinces.

Most of the disputes center on alleged violations concerning ballot counts and vote-buying.

The bench found on Friday, however, that most of the plaintiffs had not provided complete and systematic evidence to back up their claims.

The court had urged all political parties and this year'€™s legislative candidates to learn from the 2009 election, and appreciate that they had to meet certain requirements for filing such disputes with the court, including providing strong evidence. The court had also helped them by providing information on the case mechanism, as well as assistance to make the plaintiffs'€™ draft their cases more thoroughly.

The court had found, during hearings following the 2009 legislative election, that more than 50 percent of the evidence provided was incomplete, unclear or inconsistent. According to the court, it only went ahead with around 10 percent of the complaints received at that time.

Constitutional Court Chief Justice Hamdan Zoelva instructed all 871 plaintiffs to mend their petitions and provide the required information before Saturday morning at 10:50 a.m.

'€œI repeat, [those who submit] revised petitions after the deadline will be considered as having not submitted a revision,'€ Hamdan said during the hearing. '€œThis is the law.'€

Hamdan later adjourned the hearings until Monday.

Meanwhile, despite urging candidates who wanted to file cases against colleagues from the same party to try to settle their disputes internally before pursuing the matter through legal channels, the court found that many of these cases were filed without consent from their respective party leaders, including a petition filed by senior Democratic Party politician Sutan Bathoegana.

The court had laid out a clear requirement that a candidate could only file such a case with the signed consent of his or her party'€™s chairman and secretary-general.

Hinca Panjaitan, who represented the Democratic Party, said after the hearing that the party had not given its consent to Sutan, who is now a corruption suspect, due to the pending graft case.

'€œIt was impossible [as he is a suspect], so we dropped his petition,'€ Hinca said, adding that the party had also dropped three other petitions as they planned to settle those internally.

Several plaintiffs dropped their cases during the hearing due to a lack of evidence, including the Gerindra Party, which had filed 70 petitions from 26 provinces, and the NasDem Party, which had filed 59 cases from 23 provinces.

'€œMost of the plaintiffs who dropped their cases felt they had no evidence. We had rushed to file the petitions but after we verified them, some of the plaintiffs dropped their cases, while some other cases are being settled internally,'€ Gerindra'€™s advocacy head, Habiburokhman, told the bench during the hearing.

Representing NasDem, Taufik Basari told reporters after the hearing that his party had also dropped several cases due to a lack of evidence.

The court has said it will handle all the cases carefully and professionally within 30 days '€” despite the high number of cases '€” by barring a justice from hearing a case based in the electoral district where they live.

The court also heard 32 cases filed by candidates for Regional Representatives Councils (DPDs) from 19 provinces, some of which were petitions by incumbents including designer Poppy Dharsono of Central Java.

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