As the deadline for the registration of presidential and vice-presidential candidates approached, the public was surprised by the controversial decision made by the Constitutional Court (MK).
The case numbered 90/PUU-XXI/2023 concerning the minimum age for presidential and vice-presidential candidates in Law Number 7 of 2017 on General Elections was upheld by the court on Monday (October 16).
The ruling stated that presidential and vice-presidential candidates elected in previous elections, whether as members of the House of Representatives/Regional Representatives Council (DPR/DPD), governors, or mayors, can run even if they haven’t reached the age of 40.
UGM’s law and political expert highlighted this issue in a discussion at the Election Corner, “MKDK: Where is Our Democracy Heading,” on Thursday (October 19).
Zainal Arifin Mochtar, a UGM legal expert, stated that this court’s legal decision has a significant impact on the reputation of the Constitutional Court and Indonesian law.
“The legal decision very rarely reveals the creator’s inner mood. We, as the public, only perceive it based on logical reasoning. But, if we look at yesterday’s hearing, there was a lot of emotional atmosphere expressed,” expressed Mochtar.
“Why was the previously rejected lawsuit rejected, while this new one, submitted on September 13, was immediately accepted?”
“There’s also an issue about the involvement of the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court. He mentioned from the start that he didn’t want to decide due to a conflict of interest, but now, he was involved in this decision.”
Mochtar added that compared to the acknowledgment of this decision, what’s more dangerous is if the Constitutional Court changes its stance based on its interests.
The Constitutional Court was established to address political issues through legal means. That’s why most of its duties often intersect with politics.
However, according to Mochtar, the current situation appears reversed. The recent ruling indicates how much politics influences the Constitutional Court.
“When democracy is disrupted, the vital enforcement of law in democracy is disrupted. Second, when the fundamental essence of democracy, such as the requirements for presidential and vice-presidential candidates, is suddenly removed by judges, how can public policies related to the democratic process be determined by individuals who are not democratically elected? Third, how the judicial power is used to justify political desires?” Mochtar stated.
Moreover, looking at the position of the Constitutional Court as the law enforcer in the 2024 election, this condition is deeply worrying.
Sukri Tamma, a law expert from Hasanuddin University, echoed Mochtar’s views and questioned the state of democracy after this ruling. Essentially, democracy requires law to set boundaries and avoid the domination of one party over another.
The intertwining of law and politics should not serve the interests of specific political groups.
Tamma opined that the court’s decision on the age limit for presidential and vice-presidential candidates doesn’t just impact the upcoming election. It could lead to a belief that politics can control the Constitution.
“The implications will be long-lasting. At the very least, in the future, it might cause a wavering in democracy. Our defense is now incredibly fragile,” Tamma said.
“This process will compromise the strengthening of democracy; then it will be used to legitimize certain interests. If this principle isn’t democratic, then we’re not democratic. It will delight us in procedural democracy with no substance.”