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Jakarta Post

Court rules simultaneous elections as 'most constitutional'

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, February 27, 2020   /   03:02 pm
Court rules simultaneous elections as 'most constitutional' The nine justices of the Constitutional Court preside at a hearing in this file photo. (JP/Seto Wardhana)

The Constitutional Court (MK) has ruled against the plaintiffs of the review petition on the simultaneous general elections that aimed to have the practice abolished, saying that the presidential, House of Representatives, and Regional Representatives Council (DPD) elections must be held concurrently.

During the hearing on Wednesday, justice Saldi Isra communicated the court's belief that holding the presidential and national legislative elections separately would directly contradict the 1945 Constitution.

“The court believes that the most constitutional method to be to hold the elections for both the presidency and the national legislature simultaneously,” Saldi said as quoted by Antara News. “Holding the general election for the national legislature and the president and vice president simultaneously is the logical consequence of trying to strengthen the presidential system."

The petitioners, which comprised election watchdogs Pemantau Pemilu Arjuna and Pemantau Pemilu Pena, had argued that the 2019 simultaneous elections had caused many deaths in addition to making it difficult for voters to get to know all the candidates.

Last year's presidential and legislative elections in Indonesia, held simultaneously on April 17, 2019, were dubbed the most complex single-day election in the world. 

Unlike in the past, when the presidential election was held around three months after the legislative election, voters across the country were given five ballot papers to cast in a single day, one ballot paper each for the presidential election and four legislative elections: the House of Representatives, the provincial and the regental or municipal Regional Legislative Councils (DPRDs) and the DPD. 

This meant that voters had to choose from among hundreds of candidates, while polling station workers worked overtime to ensure that the ballots were counted within the given deadline. Overwork is thought to have been a contributing factor in the deaths of over 500 polling station workers in the month following the election, many from exhaustion, sleep deprivation and ensuing health complications.

Despite its ruling that the presidential and House elections must be held simultaneously, the court did not rule out the possibility for the other, lower-level legislative elections to be held separately.

Saldi read out five possible alternatives, including a simultaneous election for the presidency, House and DPD while a separate simultaneous election could be held for regional heads and DPRDs. (rfa)