The Constitutional Court and Indonesian Electoral Law
18 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2016
Date Written: March 7, 2016
Indonesia’s Constitutional Court has heard many constitutional challenges to electoral legislation and its decisions have had important ramifications for the way elections operate in Indonesia. In particular, the Court has fleshed out the meaning of ‘democracy’, a principle enshrined in Indonesia’s Constitution. For example, the Court has held, in several cases, that democracy requires that people have the right to vote and to stand for office with very few limitations. This article focuses on four election-related issues significantly affected by the Court’s decisions: the need for voter registration on the electoral roll; whether a party’s list of preferred candidates can trump voter choice; the permissibility of independent candidates standing for election as president or head of a regional government; and whether presidential and general legislative elections must be held together or can be held three months apart (as had previously been the case). While many of these decisions appear to be well-intentioned efforts to improve democratic practice in Indonesia, the Court’s electoral jurisprudence is marred by poorly reasoned and inconsistent legal arguments, and undesirable side effects. In some respects at least, the Court’s decisions appear to have done more to harm democratic practice than improve it.
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