The Constitutional Court’s election dispute ruling is loud and clear for everyone to hear, not only because of the finality and binding nature of the decision, but also because there was no solid evidence found to support allegations that incumbent President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and his running mate Ma’ruf Amin won the April 17 race by cheating.
In the coming four months, the nation — including losing presidential candidate pair Prabowo Subianto and Sandiaga Uno, as well as their supporters — will be welcoming a government under Jokowi and Ma’ruf, who will serve until 2024. There is no more room to argue the legitimacy of more than 85 million votes that catapulted Jokowi and Ma’ruf to the highest and second-highest office, respectively.
Not everybody is happy with the verdict. The court has no obligation to please everyone in the first place, but as the nation has witnessed thanks to live coverage of the hearings, the justices reached a decision in favor of Jokowi and Ma’ruf because there was no damning proof of structured, systematic and massive electoral fraud as Prabowo and Sandiaga had claimed.
Besides, Prabowo looked unprepared to fight in court, as evident in his decision to revise the petition he had already filed with the court. The course of the hearing further displayed Prabowo’s poor preparation, including a selection of witnesses who admitted during their testimony to not having seen the alleged fraud take place themselves. As if to add insult to injury, in his motion Prabowo demanded that the panel of justices disqualify his contender, which is certainly beyond the court’s reach.
Indeed, Prabowo and his lawyers faced the Herculean task of proving all their accusations. The evidence they presented should have shown that electoral fraud occurred in at least 50 percent of the country’s provinces in order to meet their claims of structured, systematic and massive cheating by the incumbent.
Considering the court proceedings, there should be no qualms about the fairness of the verdict. Prabowo, too, had vowed to accept whatever decision the court would make. His supporters, including hundreds of people who rallied not far from the Constitutional Court building, should follow suit.
Five years ago, Prabowo — despite losing the race — attended the inauguration of Jokowi as the seventh president in a show of support for the government, the result of a democratic election. His presence in Jokowi’s swearing-in ceremony this October would further contribute to development of Indonesia’s democracy.
The court’s decision is by no means “game over” for Prabowo. While Jokowi holds executive power, Prabowo can play a pivotal role outside the government — as he has done so far. The fact that Prabowo won 45.5 percent of the valid vote should allow him to build a formidable opposition that will ensure the checks and balances mechanism works and that democracy flourishes.
Reconciliation between the two camps is mandatory and pressing to stop tension amid the grassroots and prevent disintegration. Concern for national unity, however, should not justify the silencing of the opposition and critics — including by coopting them all into government.