simon butt - indonesian constitutional court decisions in regional

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  • IndonesianConstitutionalCourtdecisionsinregionalheadelectoraldisputes1

    SimonButt

    Introduction

    Politicians,publicfiguresoranyoneaspiringforapublicofficemaynowhaveanewwayofachieving theirambitions througha legalbattle incourtTherequirementsaresimpleandreasonablyeasytomeet.First,getapoliticalpartytonominateyou;secondly,contesttheelectionresultifyouhappento loose [sic]and;thirdly,enlistpeoplewhohaveenoughgutstotestify(orperhapstolie)underoaththatyourrivalshaverobbedyouofyourelectionvictoryeitherby illegally inflatingtheirvotetallyorpreventingyoursupportersfromcastingtheirvotesDonotworryaboutthevalidityoftheirtestimonies;thehonorable judgeswillnotbothertoverify them. The fact that the testimonies are givenunderoathmeanstheymustbetrueAsforyousupporterswhodidnotcasttheirvotes,the judgeswill take careof them.Onceyouhave submitted "allof therequirements",justsitbackandwaitforyourinauguration.2

    Thispassage,writtenbyKanisDursin in a JakartaPost article inAugust2005,refers to the infamousDepokcaseacase inwhich theWest JavaHighCourtinvalidated the result of the Depok mayoral election in highly controversialcircumstances. Relying on questionable evidence, the High Court took victoryfromNurMahmudiIsmailandYuyunWirasaputraoftheProsperousJusticePartyandhandedittoGolkarsBadrulKalamandSyihabuddinAhmadsomethingthattheHighCourtclearly lackedpowertodo.ThisdecisionwasoverturnedbytheSupreme Court severalmonths later, but it became themain catalyst for the1AccessthisCDIPolicyPaperonline@www.cdi.anu.edu.au2 Dursin,K.2005.Theeasywaytowinanelection,JakartaPost,24August2005.

    CCDDIIPPoolliiccyyPPaappeerrssoonnPPoolliittiiccaallGGoovveerrnnaannccee

    www.cdi.anu.edu.au centre for democratic institutions

    CDIP

    PS201

    3/01

  • 2

    IndonesianConstitutionalCourtdecisionsinregionalheadelectoraldisputes

    transfer in2008of jurisdictionoverdisputes aboutPemilukadaelections forregionalheads,whethergovernors,regentsandmayorsandtheirdeputiestotheConstitutionalCourt,whichwaswidelyconsideredmoreprofessionalthanallotherIndonesiancourts.However,withinonlyafewyears,thegovernmenthadalready proposed transferring jurisdiction over these cases back to the highcourtsandSupremeCourt,ortoaspecialpurposeelectioncourt.

    Inthispaper IanalysetheConstitutionalCourtsdecisionmaking inPemilukadadisputes. I find thatmanyofDursins complaintsabout thehigh court in2005holdtruefortheConstitutionalCourt in2012. Ialsoconsiderthemaincriticismmade,mostlybypoliticians, to supportproposals to removePemilukada casesfromthepurviewoftheConstitutionalCourt:that,likethehighcourtin2005,itexceedsthejurisdictiongrantedtoitbystatutewhenitordersrecountsandreelections. Such criticisms began after the Courts decision in the East Javagovernorialelectioncase,handeddowninlate2008.Priortothiscase,theCourthadfollowedstatutoryprovisions limiting ittocheckingvotecountsforerrors.3However,intheEastJavacasetheCourtwaspresentedwithsignificantbreachesof electoral laws,most notably those prohibiting money politics. The Courtdecided that itwould no longer allow such breaches thatwere proven in thecasesbeforeittopassitbywithoutconsequence,particularlyifthosebreacheshad a perceptible effect on the election result. If breacheswere structured,systematicandmassive(terstruktur,sistematisdanmasif),therebyaffectingthevotesobtainedbycandidates,theCourtdecidedthatitcouldorderrecountsandfresh elections to remedy them. In later cases theCourt alsobegan enforcingcandidacy rules. In particular, the Court ordered reelections if someonewhostoodforelectionwas ineligiblewhentheyappliedforcandidacy,or ifthe localelectoralcommissionwronglyrefusedto letsomeonestand, includingbyfailingtoproperlychecktheireligibility.

    This paper is divided into three parts. The first covers the origins anddevelopmentof theCourts jurisprudence inPemilukadacases. In it, IdescribetheDepokcaseand theresulting transferof jurisdictionoverPemilukadacasesfromtheSupremeCourttotheConstitutionalCourt. Ithenoutlineandanalysethe Courts decision in the East Java case, focusing on the Courts legalarguments for expanding its jurisdiction toorder revotes and recounts.Part IIdescribestheCourtsjurisprudenceinsubsequentcasesthatis,theprinciplesithas developed and applied postEast Java. Aswe shall see, the breaches forwhichtheCourthasorderedrevotesandrecountshave involvedacombination

    3 Article106(2)ofLaw32of2004onRegionalGovernment.

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    SimonButt

    3

    of money politics, politicisation of the bureaucracy, electoral administratorincompetenceorbias,orphysicalintimidation.

    InPart III, IanalysetheCourtsdecisionmaking inthesecases, focusingontheformulationandapplicationof its structured,systematicandmassive testandthequestionableways ithashandledevidence in some cases. I show that theCourtsdecisionmakinginmanyofthesecaseshasbeenarbitraryandhaslackedtransparency.Criticismsof theCourts formulation and applicationof this testanditsuseofevidencehavenot,tomyknowledge,yetbeensubjecttoacademicorwiderpublicdebateinsideoroutsideofIndonesia.Rather,themainconcern,mentioned above,hasbeen that theCourthas gone too farbecause it lacksstatutoryjurisdictiontoorderrevotes.ThisresearchaimstodescribeandcritiquetheCourtsdecisionmakinginPemilukadacases.

    Thispaper seeks tobuildon research thathasexamined theCourtsdecisionmaking in judicial review cases that is, cases in which the Court reviewslegislation to determine whether it is consistent with the IndonesianConstitution. In these cases, too, the Court has been activist, significantlyexpanding its own jurisdiction as it deems necessary to fulfil itsmandate asguardian of the Constitution.4 Ultimately, Iwill show that, like in its judicialreviewcases,theCourtsjustificationfordoingthisinelectoraldisputesmightbelargelysound,butthattestsithasestablishedareunclearandtheCourtappliestheminconsistently,arbitrarily,andsometimesnotatall.Thispaperalsoseekstocontributetothesmallbutgrowingbodyof literaturethatassessestheCourtscontribution to democratic practice in Indonesia.5 After all, the Court hasdeclaredthatthemainrationaleforallowingitselftoorderrevotesorrecountsis

    4 Butt,S.&T.Lindsey.2012.TheConstitutionofIndonesia:aContextualAnalysis.Oxford:Hart

    Publishing;Butt,S.2012.IndonesiasConstitutionalCourt:conservativeactivistorstrategicoperator?InJudicialisationofPoliticsinAsia,editedbyB.Dressel,98116.MiltonPark:Routledge.

    5 Mietzner,M.2010.PoliticalConflictResolutionandDemocraticConsolidationinIndonesia:TheRoleoftheConstitutionalCourt.JournalofEastAsianStudies10(3):397424;Lindsey,T.2008.ConstitutionalReforminIndonesia:MuddlingtowardsDemocracy.InIndonesia:LawandSociety,editedbyT.Lindsey,2347.Sydney:FederationPress;Mahfud,M.2009.TheRoleoftheConstitutionalCourtintheDevelopmentOfDemocracyInIndonesia.WorldConferenceonConstitutionalJustice,CapeTown,SouthAfrica,January2324;Asshiddiqie,J.2009.CreatingaConstitutionalCourtforaNewDemocracy.CentreforComparativeConstitutionalStudiesandAsianLawCentrePublicLecture,MelbourneLawSchool;Asshiddiqie,J.2009.TheConstitutionalLawofIndonesia:AComprehensiveOverview.Selangor,Malaysia:SweetandMaxwellAsia;Nasution,I.A.B.2011.TowardsConstitutionalDemocracyinIndonesia.AdnanBuyungNasutionPapersonSoutheastAsianConstitutionalism,AsianLawCentre,TheUniversityofMelbourne.

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    IndonesianConstitutionalCourtdecisionsinregionalheadelectoraldisputes

    safeguarding the legitimacy of elections a critical component of Indonesiasconstitutionaldemocracy.

    TheConstitutionalCourtandPemilukada

    Before turning to theConstitutionalCourts jurisprudence inPemilukadacases,some background information about the Constitutional Court and Pemilukadaelections.TheConstitutionalCourtwasestablished in2003. Ithasnine judges,withtheDewanPerwakilanRakyat(DPR),PresidentandSupremeCourtselectingandappointingthree judgeseach.6ConstitutionalCourt judgesserveuptotwofiveyear termsandelect theirownChiefandDeputyChief Justices,whoholdofficefortwoyearsandsixmonths.7

    TheCourthasseveralveryimportantfunctions.Theseincluderesolvingdisputesbetween state institutions about their relative jurisdictions, dissolving politicalparties and assessing impeachment motions initiated by Indonesias nationalparliament.8 It also ensures that statutes enacted by Indonesias nationalparliamentcomplywiththeConstitutionaspartof itssocalled judicialreviewfunction.9ThisissignificantbecausetheIndonesianConstitutionnowcontains,inChapter XA, a Bill of Rights, incorporating many internationallyrecognisedhuman rights. The Court, therefore, enforces these rights by striking down orinvalidating national legislation that illegally breaches these rights. No otherIndonesian courthashadpower toperform this function since independence.The Court has regularly exercised its judicial review powers and has done soindependentlyandactively.10

    Forthepurposesofthisresearch,themostimportantfunctionoftheCourtistoresolveelectoraldisputes.WhentheCourtwasfirstestablished,onlyparticipantsinelectionsforthenationalparliament,theRegionalRepresentativeCouncil,andthepresidencycouldbringchallenges to theofficialvotecountsannouncedbytheNationalElectoralCommissionbeforetheCourt.11Thismechanismwasused

    6 Article24C(3)oftheConstitution;Articles4(1)and18(1)ofthe2003ConstitutionalCourtLaw.7 Articles4(3)and22ofthe2003ConstitutionalCourtLaw.8 Articles24C(1)and24C(2)ofthe1945ConstitutionandArticle10ofLaw24of2003onthe

    ConstitutionalCourt.9 ForacomprehensivediscussionoftheCourtsjudicialreviewcases,seeButt,S.&T.Lindsey.

    2012.TheConstitutionofIndonesia:aContextualAnalysis.Oxford:HartPublishing10 Articles130(2)and156(1)ofthefederalConstitutionoftheUnitedStatesofIndonesia

    (RepublikIndonesiaSerikat,RSI),whichwasinforceforlessthanayearfrom1949to1950,permittedjudicialreviewofstate,butnotfederal,statutes(Lotulung,P.1997.JudicialReviewinIndonesia.InComparativeStudiesontheJudicialReviewSysteminEastandSoutheastAsia,editedby