Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Jokowi’s aides slither to find a way to delay elections

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Gusty da Costa





Some politicians inside President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration has planned to delay the 2024 General Elections to prolong his presidency tenure for three years, a source in the Executive Office of the President (KSP) said.

“If the people, the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) and the House of Representatives (DPR) are ready, who can oppose the election postponement? They are the ones who orchestrate the elections,” the source told Indonesia Business Post on February 21, 2023.

So far, only DPR Speaker Puan Maharani has yet to agree on the elections delay. The source claimed that both the MPR and DPD have approved on the delay proposal. “It is Puan who is wishy-washy. Puan should be mature for three more years as the House speaker,” he added.

However, the source said the chance of election postponement was 50:50 unless the DPR gave its nod, even though the MPR and DPD already agreed. Some parties in the government are negotiating with political parties. “Each party will ask about the benefits that they can secure from the postponement,” he said.

Force majeure scenario

The source explained that some parties within the government would design a force majeure situation, where there will be victims to be “sacrificed” to smoothen the agenda. He cited an example of a 2023 economic crisis that would be a good reason for delaying the elections as it would be costly. “We need to create a force majeure,” he said.

Denny Indrayana, former law and human rights deputy minister and supporter of presidential hopeful Anies Baswedan, said that the Jokowi administration could pick several scenarios to postpone the elections and allow a third presidential term.

The first scenario is to amend the Constitution that will enable Jokowi to be elected for the third period or allow the MPR to name the president instead of through direct election. The president and his coalition power is still the majority in the MPR. “This forum is a special session of MPR,” Indrayana said.

Read also: Megawati says no to idea of President Jokowi’s third period

If MPR members voted for the president, there would be no need for Jokowi to be re-elected. They can name a president who has the same political affinity with them. On the contrary, a direct presidential election will make them unable to control the winner.

“If the MPR elected a president, it would solidify Jokowi’s coalition as the majority. Even if Nasdem Party, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the Democratic Party join forces, they are still outnumbered to win in a head-to-head vote at the MPR,” Indrayana said.

The second scenario is an extra-constitutional step. The President could issue a decree due to coercive urgency or emergency. “Jokowi issued a government regulation in lieu of job creation law (Perppu). He will repeat that but he will make a Perppu as a tool to issue his decree. The decree’s content contradicts the Constitution,” said Indrayana.

MPR Special Session

In his press statement, Indrayana said that during a discussion with Coordinating Minister for Politic, Law and Security Mahfud MD, he got the information that a politician told Mahfud, saying the politician and his allies would be ready to hold a special session. The MPR special session is intended to extend Jokowi’s tenure or to elect a president in the special session, which will take place when Jokowi is visiting a foreign country.

A political activist from the opposition said Golkar Party lawmaker confirmed there was an informal committee inside the DPR to work on the election delay and the extension of Jokowi’s tenure.

“I said if the election is delayed for three years, it will be supported by the DPR as the lawmakers will be very happy with an extended three-year sitting period,” Indrayana explained.

Read also: Supporters seek extension of Jokowi’s presidential term

The MPR Speaker Bambang Soesatyo, DPD Speaker La Nyalla Mahmud Mattalitti and Investment Minister Bahlil Lahadalia have stated their support for the extension of Jokowi’s term and the delay of the election. “The students will not stage protest against the delay because they have been paid,” Indrayana said, adding that the force majeure scenario would cost around IDR 1 trillion (US$ 65.7 million).

Impossible to postpone election

A senior politician with the Indonesia Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) said that he strongly believed there would not be any delay in the elections, the tenure extension of high state institutions and the amendment of the Constitution.

The politician believed there should be solid functional bases for the amendment, the delay of the elections and the tenure extension of high state institutions. 

“There are many questions including how long the government can extend the tenure of high state institutions? The tenure for a state institution is only five years. If the DPR issued a political decision [to extend the tenure], they actually has lost its political authority starting on October 1, 2024. The president can issue a decree for any reason, but his tenure will end on October 20, 2024. What is the base for a decree? “he added.

If Jokowi used the emergency law, then he confirmed there was a severe problem in the country. It contradicts the government’s effort to convince the public that there is optimism and hope that Indonesia would stay safe.

“There is a comparison with the regional election in December 2020. At the time, many people requested a delay in the election. However, the state, the General Elections Commission (KPU), the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu), DPR and the president agreed to continue the regional elections. What is the difference between regional and presidential elections?” the politician questioned.

Constitution amendment

It seems impossible if the government wanted to amend the constitution. The only chance for the amendment will be in August 2023. However, the politician said there were no phases for revising the structure of the DPR in factions of MPR and institutions inside MPR.

“Even if the MPR speaker talked about the amendment, the configuration of the MPR leadership does not reflect the amendment plan,” he added.

Read also: Jokowi supporters push for third term in office

The politician said that from the perspective of Javanese political culture, Jokowi could not take an opposing position against his own political party PDIP. Speaking at the PDIP’s 50th anniversary on January 10, 2023, Megawati reiterated that a president’s tenure in Indonesia was only two consecutive periods and she strongly opposed the idea of a third presidency period for Jokowi.

“It is possible for Batak or people from Nias and Manado [to dispute]. Javanese cannot oppose the party which supports him directly,” he said.

Who is supporting the election delay?

The PDIP politician said there were small elements or “dwarfs “in the Presidential Palace who want to maintain their power. In the theory of power, these “dwarfs” always feel that they also have power. But it does not mean that the president wants an extension of his tenure and amendment of the constitution.

He also said that several ministers – Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Minister of Investment Bahlil Lahadalia and State Secretary Pratikno – supported the amendment of the constitution and the delay of the elections. “Pratikno, Luhut and Bahlil wage a guerrilla for that. While [State-Owned Enterprises minister] Erick Thohir waits and sees the situation and will adapt to the case,” he explained.

Read also: Jokowi’s sons joining regional head elections is a sign of building political dynasty

The politician said that when he accompanied the president, Jokowi personally said he did not want to delay the election or extend his power. “In his mind, he did not think about himself, but his son in Solo [Surakarta Mayor Gibran Rakabuming Raka] and his son-in-law in Medan [Medan Mayor Bobby Nasution],” he added.

In his opinion, the Indonesian Military (TNI), the National Police and intelligence will reject the idea of election delay and the third period of presidency. Based on the doctrine of the military and the police, they will always uphold the constitution. “They will reject the idea,” he said.

Gusty da Costa






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