The Constitutional Court and Indonesian Electoral Law

18 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2016

See all articles by Simon Butt

Simon Butt

The University of Sydney - Faculty of Law

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.

Suggested Citation

Butt, Simon, The Constitutional Court and Indonesian Electoral Law (March 7, 2016). Australian Journal of Asian Law, 2016, Vol 16 No 2, Article 3: 143-160, Available at SSRN:

Simon Butt (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney - Faculty of Law ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006

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