Indonesia court rejects lawsuits challenging presidential election

Two losing presidential candidates had alleged fraud and state interference helped winner Prabowo Subianto.
Arie Firdaus
Indonesia court rejects lawsuits challenging presidential election Losing presidential candidate Anies Baswedan (center) takes notes alongside his running mate, Muhaimin Iskandar, while a judge reads a decision on their challenge to the Feb. 14 election at the Constitutional Court in Jakarta on April 22, 2024.
Eko Siswono Toyudho/BenarNews

Indonesia’s Constitutional Court on Monday threw out two complaints challenging the result of the Feb. 14 presidential election, lifting a final hurdle for Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto to assume leadership of Southeast Asia’s largest nation.

The court dismissed the petitions by losing presidential candidates Anies Baswedan and Ganjar Pranowo, who had both separately alleged the election was marred by fraud and favoritism toward the former general.

Prabowo’s rivals had argued that his campaign was unfairly aided by the support of outgoing but popular President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and the misuse of state apparatuses, including the courts and social aid programs.

Dealing first with the petition from Anies, the court said there was “no legal basis” to the claim that the president or state agencies had interfered on behalf of Prabowo.

“In the main petition, [the court] rejects the applicant’s petition in its entirety,” said Chief Judge Suhartoyo, who goes by only one name.

The judges dismissed the argument that social aid had been distributed to influence voters.

“The court is of the opinion that there is no causal relationship or relevance between the distribution of social assistance and an increase in the vote share of one of the candidate pairs,” said Judge Arsul Sani. 

Supporters of failed presidential candidate Anies Baswedan throw stones at supporters of presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto during a rally near the Constitutional Court in Jakarta on April 19, 2024. [AFP]

Later in the day, the court also rejected Ganjar's challenge, saying there was no evidence of nepotism and abuse of power by the state. 

Otto Hasibuan, a lawyer for Prabowo, said the ruling was a “a victory for all Indonesians.”

‘Systematic’ violations

Five judges ruled to reject both petitions, while three gave dissenting opinions.

Judge Arief Hidayat, one of the dissenting voices, said the government had “committed election violations in a structured and systematic manner.”

The Feb. 14 polls saw Prabowo receive 58.61% of the vote, far outpacing former Jakarta Gov. Anies who received 24.9%, and former Central Java Gov. Ganjar who received 16.5%.

Prabowo, 72, emerged victorious in his third run at the presidency after putting the eldest son of Jokowi, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, on the ticket as his running mate.

Girban’s nomination as a vice-presidential candidate was cleared by a contentious Constitutional Court ruling in October last year that changed eligibility rules to allow the 36-year-old to run.

The court’s chief justice at the time, Anwar Usman, is Jokowi’s brother-in-law and he was later found guilty of ethical violations.

Jokowi did not explicitly endorse any candidate and has rejected any allegations of nepotism. 

Losing presidential candidate Ganjar Pranowo (right) and his running mate Mohammad Mahfud MD wave to visitors at the Indonesian Constitutional Court in Jakarta on April 22, 2024. [Eko Siswono Toyudho/BenarNews]

Several watchdog groups have labeled the election as the worst since Indonesia’s transition to democracy 25 years ago, citing issues with campaign finance and electoral fraud.

Prabowo, who twice lost elections to Jokowi before becoming his defense minister, swept to victory following a massive rebranding effort that softened his image from that of a fiery nationalist to a cuddly or cute grandfather figure.

The former special forces commander has been dogged by his links to alleged human rights abuses throughout his political career – allegations he has consistently denied.

He is due to replace the still immensely popular Jokowi in October. 

Following Monday’s rulings, Presidential Staff Coordinator Ari Dwipayana said the government respected the Constitutional Court’s decision.

“The government will immediately prepare and fully support the transition process for the government of the president and vice president-elect,” he said in a written statement.


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