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The Constitutional Court Under Criticism: Partiality and a Threat to Democracy

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Jakarta – Constitutional Law Observer Bivitri Susanti believes that the Constitutional Court (MK) has perpetuated dynastic politics with its latest decision regarding the age limit for presidential and vice presidential candidates which was read out Monday, October 16 2023.

Bivitri said that there would be an impact on the Constitutional Court after the reading of its decision. The first impact is the decline in the legitimacy of the Constitutional Court.

Second, he believes that this decision will legitimize the use of the judiciary for dynastic political interests in democracy in Indonesia.

“In the context of Indonesian democracy more generally, in my opinion, there is a use of the judiciary to form dynastic politics,” said Bivitri.

Previously, in a media discussion held by Media PARA Syndicate at the PARA Syndicate Office with the theme “MK is not a family court: throne, power, forgetfulness?”, various community figures and activists also expressed concerns regarding the MK.

Deputy Chair of the SETARA Institute, Bonar Tigor Naipospos, underlined the importance of the Constitutional Court considering the strong reaction of the people if the wrong decision is taken. Naipospos also emphasized that the Constitutional Court’s decision must be taken for the good of Indonesia.

“The Constitutional Court is expected to make wise decisions by considering the strong reaction of the people if the decision is wrong, and also for the good of Indonesia,” said Bonar in the discussion, Sunday (15/10).

However, the biggest concern in this discussion is focused on the close relationship between President Jokowi and the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court, Anwar Usman.

The Coordinator of the Indonesian Advocates Movement, Petrus Selestinus, expressed his concern about what he called the Constitutional Court which looked increasingly like a “Family Court”.

Selestinus predicted that the Constitutional Court might face a dispute regarding the results of the presidential and regional elections involving President Jokowi’s family.

“The Constitutional Court looks increasingly like a ‘Family Court’ with the close relationship between President Jokowi and the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court, Anwar Usman. “Especially ahead of the 2024 simultaneous elections, the Constitutional Court may face disputes regarding the results of the presidential and regional elections involving President Jokowi’s family,” said Selestinus.

Apart from that, Petrus Selestinus also views that the Constitutional Court has taken over a number of decisions that should be the authority of the DPR, especially regarding decisions such as extending the term of office of the leadership of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the lawsuit regarding the age limit for presidential and vice presidential candidates.

He urged that in situations where a judge has personal interests, the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court should resign in accordance with legal provisions.

“In a situation where a judge has personal interests, the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court should resign in accordance with legal provisions, because the family relationship between President Jokowi and the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court has damaged the integrity of the procedural law system at the Constitutional Court, democracy and the authority of the DPR,” he explained.

The discussion highlighted the serious problems facing the Constitutional Court today. Although the MK has an important role in safeguarding the constitution and state laws, criticism of the close relationship between the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court and President Jokowi as well as the DPR’s usurpation of authority has raised concerns about the MK’s neutrality and integrity. (*)

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