PDIP respects the Constitution: Megawati refuses to back a presidential term of office extension

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Megawati Soekarnoputri
Megawati Soekarnoputri. Photo: M. ADE NOVERYZA

IO – The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) firmly declares that the party’s General Chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri categorically rejects the extension of the presidential administration to three terms, instead of the current two. PDIP politician Masinton Pasaribu said that PDIP complies with the Constitution that limits the president’s term of office to two terms. The attitude to respect the Constitution is in accordance with what Megawati has instructed. 

“For some time, Chairwoman Megawati has been emphasizing the commitment of allegiance. What is the commitment of allegiance? It means to be loyal to the Constitution and laws. I believe that Chairwoman Mega is a person who sticks to her principles. In that context, she will not compromise,” said Masinton during a discussion called “Proposal of the presidential tenure extension. What is the fate of regional heads?” held by Total Politics in South Jakarta, Sunday (2/27/2022). 

Masinton also mentioned how the idea of election postponement that has been unfolding recently needs to be based on the interests of the nation and not succumb to a thirst for power. “For whatever reason, we must avoid it. There should no longer be absolute, unlimited power, because our country is still a law-abiding state. It is not a state of power. We have to draw the line here,” he said. 

Masinton further explained that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo shares the same sentiment of disagreeing with the three-term presidency. He said the notion of extending the term of office to three terms might be misleading as it was unclear where the idea originated, whether from political parties, a tit for tat, or empty words. 

Similarly, Deputy Chairman of Gerindra Party Sugiono stated that Gerindra will always adhere to Constitutional provisions and principles. The 1945 Constitution clearly states that elections are held every five years in a direct, public, free, confidential, honest and fair manner (LUBER JURDIL). “Our Constitution clearly decrees it like that,” he said. 

Sugiono added that, as a nation, Indonesia had chosen democracy for its political system. One of the manifestations of democracy is to hold regular and periodic general elections. The public has also shown their concern that the election should be held as scheduled in 2024. 

“The Government and the House of Representatives have concurred that the election will be held on February 14, 2024,” said Sugiono. “In due course, Gerindra Party’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees, who is also the party’s General Chairman, will convey Gerindra Party’s official position, considering that this issue has been circulating outside formal channels, both in the executive and legislative organs,” he said. 

The Chairman of NasDem Party Central Executive Board, Teuku Taufiqulhadi, is criticizing the idea of postponing the 2024 election for another 1-2 years. This proposal does not seem to consider the risk of ruining democracy. “Some political figures and ministers from the working cabinet proposed that Mr. Jokowi’s presidency should be extended, by making amendments to the Constitution. I could say that this is an irresponsible proposal,” Taufiqulhadi told reporters, Friday (2/25). 

Constitutional law expert from Gadjah Mada University Zainal Arifn Mochtar said the notion of election postponement is nonsensical. “The postponement of the election for fabricated reasons makes no sense at all and is undoubtedly debatable,” he said. 

Zainal mentioned that an election postponement is only possible if a country has objective reasons, such as being impacted by the Russia-Ukraine war, the emergence of a deadly COVID-19 virus or natural disasters in numerous regions. “Can it be postponed? Yes, it is possible, because every country must have objective conditions that allow the postponement of elections,” he said. 

Zainal believes that certain political elites support the discourse of the postponement, due to economic conditions. However, this cannot be a valid excuse for postponing the 2024 election. “Who says that by postponing the election, the economy will improve? If a more legitimate president is elected, the economy might get even better,” he said. 

Moreover, if the COVID-19 pandemic is used as the reason for a postponement, it will not be objective, because Indonesia successfully held regional heads election in 2020 amid the surge of COVID-19 infections. “Thus, there have to be objective reasons. It is as if Indonesia has no other competent figure to lead the country so that Jokowi has to run for another term,” said Zainal. 

Similarly, Igor Dirgantara, a political observer from Jayabaya University, said that the discourse on postponing the 2024 election proposed by several political party figures is actually very counterproductive during the ongoing pandemic. “Various survey results show that public satisfaction with President Jokowi’s performance is quite high and the economy is improving, but that does not necessarily mean the public wants the presidential term to be extended. Why? Because there are more drawbacks than benefts in many aspects, both political and economic,” said Igor. “What the public wants is to continue Jokowi’s development program, not his tenure,” he continued. 

Igor said that such a discourse could overturn President Jokowi’s authority because he has openly rejected the idea. “Accepting such an idea will lead to a crisis of legitimacy and public confidence in the current government, because it can be seen as ruining democracy and the spirit of reform. Furthermore, no other country in the world has used the COVID-19 virus as a reason to extend power. Inevitably, those who “whisper” to President Jokowi to extend his term are more dangerous than the COVID-19 virus itself,” he remarked. 

Igor said the government coalition parties that express their support for the election postponement do not look confident to abide serve the Constitutional mandate that limits the presidency for two terms. “In fact, political parties are the foundation of democracy. They probably propose change because the electability of their parties’ leaders is low. The question is: Would they voice the same idea if they had high electability? Mr. Jokowi should make sure he will make a soft landing by the end of his term in 2024,” he said. 

“President Jokowi’s programs must be continued by people who are fiercely committed to sustaining good performance, such as Prabowo Subianto. He was once rumored to have devised a coup in the New Order era, but the fact shows that he is loyal to the Constitution and tenacious in the current reform era,” Igor continued. 

A similar view was expressed by former Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who also firmly rejected the notion of postponing the 2024 simultaneous general elections. Jusuf Kalla said on Monday (2/28) that this discourse would only violate the mandate of the Indonesian Constitution. He urges everyone to respect the Constitution. “Because if we don’t adhere to the Constitution, there will be unrest in the country,” he said. Jusuf Kalla added that if the Constitution stipulates elections are to be held once in five years, then this must be followed. 

The issue of postponing the 2024 general elections has been rising lately, voiced by the Chairman of the National Awakening Party (PKB) Muhaimin Iskandar, the Chairman of the Golkar Party Airlangga Hartarto and the Chairman of the National Mandate Party (PAN) Zulkifi Hasan. Many people, however, have expressed their disagreement with the issue. (des)