Court Ruling Sparks Debate on Indonesia’s Political Elite

Indonesia’s Constitutional Court has rejected a challenge to its ruling that allowed President Joko Widodo’s son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, to run as a vice-presidential candidate in the February 2024 general election. The court, consisting of eight justices, unanimously dismissed the petition, which argued the original ruling was unconstitutional. The ruling made an exception on the age requirement for candidates who wished to run for president or vice president.

The court stated that any decision to change the law should be left to the legislature. The ruling in October cleared a path for President Widodo’s son to run for vice-president, but made an exception for candidates who had previously held or had been elected regional leaders, such as governors or mayors. Six days later, Gibran, the mayor of Solo, was chosen by presidential candidate and Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto to be his running mate.

Anwar Usman, one of the nine judges of the Constitutional Court, was recused from a recent case after being found guilty of ethical violations by the ethics body. The ruling is binding, and Anwar, who is married to Jokowi’s sister, was dismissed as the chief justice of the Constitutional Court. Jokowi faces criticism for promoting family members and loyalists to government positions, causing concerns about intentions, and cannot run for a third term and has not publicly endorsed any presidential candidates.

A law lecturer at Trisakti University in Jakarta, Abdul Fickar Hadjar, criticized the judges for not acting as lawmakers and steered clear of controversial decisions. Gibran’s candidacy has also sparked lawsuits against the General Election Commission, with one suit accusing the commission of breaking the law by accepting Gibran’s nomination. Lawyer Ibnu Syamsu Hidayat argues that lawsuits against the Indonesian commission demonstrate public awareness of political collusion by authorities. Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest democracy, is known for corruption and nepotism at all government levels, and the public cannot remain silent when mistakes are obvious.

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