Presidential Threshold, Constitutional Court and (Intellectual) Revolution

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Anthony Budiawan
Anthony Budiawan, Managing Director of Political Economy and Policy Studies (PEPS).

IO – Through their representatives in the Parliament, political parties are allowing Indonesia to degenerate into a potential failure, one controlled by oligarchs, and a tyranny, where despotic oligarchs rule the economy and make law.

The House of Representatives passed a General Election Law that implies “Indonesia for Sale” by manipulating the presidential election process and stipulating a 20% presidential threshold. This signifies that the President and Vice President can only be nominated by a political party or an alliance of political parties with a minimum of 20% votes of total seats in the House.

Ergo, oligarchic political coalitions (read: cartels) will dominate Indonesia’s economy because these alliances only leave two presidential and vice-presidential candidates, conveniently selected by the oligarchs. In other words, a titular president or puppet president.

People are fed up. People are outraged because they are being used as a political commodity in “Indonesia for Sale” to fill oligarchs’ endlessly deep pockets.

Several groups have filed a lawsuit against the Constitutional Court. All checkmated. In one of its decisions, the Constitutional Court stated that the presidential threshold “… is constitutional because this provision is needed to provide certainty of parliamentary support for the President as one of the conditions for the stability of the President’s performance. Presidential threshold serves to empower the presidential system.”

It seems that the Constitutional Court has overstepped its authority as a constitutional court that reviews General Election Law regarding the 20% presidential threshold with the Constitution. Here are the reasons: First, the Constitutional Court is merely requested to review whether the 20% presidential threshold violates Article 6A paragraph (2) of the Constitution, “The presidential and vice-presidential candidate pair are nominated by a political party or coalition of political parties participating in a general election before general election implementation.”

In this context, it seems that the 20% presidential threshold has violated Article 6A, Paragraph (2) of the Constitution. Then again, the Constitutional Court’s decision was not based on a review against the Constitution. Instead, it is based on subjective and unconstitutional opinions. Thus, the Constitutional Court’s decision violates the Constitution itself.

Second, the Constitutional Court was not asked its opinion on strengthening the presidential system. Which article in the Constitution says that a 20% presidential threshold can and must strengthen the presidential system?

If it is not there, then the Constitutional Court’s argument that the 20% presidential threshold is constitutional because it strengthens the presidential system is clearly ill-conceived, since it goes beyond the authority of the Constitutional Court, whose designation is only to review the law with the Constitution, and should never be a subjective interpretation of the nation’s needs in politics, such as the presidential system.

So, do not blame the people if they think the Constitutional Court’s decision is ludicrous, an extension of the tyrannical oligarchy oppressing the people.

Third, the Constitutional Court’s reasons are illogical and have no legal basis at all, both in theory and empirical facts. This is because the governmental system in many other countries is stable even though they do not rely on a presidential threshold system when nominating a president.

Fourth, if the stability of the presidential system is used as the reason, then the 20% presidential threshold is insufficient. Thus, the President still has to “horse-trade” with other political parties, a.k.a. create a political cartel, to control the Parliament.

For now, the support of these political “coalitions” (read: cartels) may have reached 80% of the total seats in the House of Representatives, or maybe more. Therefore, the 20% presidential threshold becomes pointless.

In conclusion, the 20% presidential threshold for presidential candidacy has nothing to do with strengthening the presidential system. Thus, the Constitutional Court’s reasons are too far-fetched and exceed the Court’s authority.

People suspect that the decision was made to satisfy the tyrannical oligarchs’ interests, eventually resulting in the destruction of the Indonesian nation. Again, people are furious. They are sick and tired of the oligarchs’ dirty tricks, employed to dominate the executive, legislative and judicial branches.

Once again, people of diverse backgrounds are petitioning for the removal of the 20% presidential threshold. As mandated in the Constitution, the President and vice President can be nominated by a political party or a coalition. Petitioners even include members of the Regional Representatives Council.

At this point, the Constitutional Court must be more sharp-eyed in handing down its verdict. It must be constitutional and just. The fate of the nation is in the hands of the Court, whether to remain in the greedy clutches of a tyrannical oligarchy or emerge as a clean democratic country. The judges of the Constitutional Court must embrace an intellectual revolution to return to the path of an independent judiciary.

Manipulated and unjust decisions can lead to people’s wrath. These decisions can trigger an intellectual revolution to reclaim people’s sovereignty from the tyrannical oligarchy.