Indonesian High Court Upholds Widodo’s July Election Victory

Indonesia’s constitutional court rejected allegations of fraud in last month’s national elections, upholding Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo’s victory over a Suharto-era general.

The court rejected allegations by General Prabowo Subianto of voting irregularities at about 59,000 polling stations, validating Widodo’s 8.4-million vote victory in the July 9 election. Prabowo’s lawyer Habiburrahman said the verdict was final and there was no option for an appeal.

The court rejected “all requests made by the applicant,” said Chief Justice Hamdan Zoelva at about 8:45 p.m. in Jakarta, after members of the court spent six hours reading aloud excerpts from the more than 4,300 page decision. Tensions ran high during the reading as police fired tear gas to prevent Prabowo supporters from rushing the court building. The government deployed more than 29,000 police for the verdict.

The ruling will allow 53-year-old Widodo, known as Jokowi, to move forward with preparations to take over the presidency in October and should end a month of uncertainty that has gripped the world’s third-largest democracy after Prabowo rejected the official General Elections Commission’s results. Ensuring a calm transfer of power is crucial for Indonesia as it seeks to assure investors the nation’s closest election since its emergence from decades of dictatorship in 1998 won’t erode economic progress.

Not ‘Reasonable’

From the outset of the delivery of the verdict, the judges seemed to be turning against Prabowo’s claims. About an hour into the reading, one of Prabowo’s key allegations was dismissed.

“According to the court, the reasoning that has been submitted by the petitioner isn’t reasonable, according to the law,” Justice Muhammad Alim said, striking down Prabowo’s claims that votes had been changed. The court found there were violations in two districts in Indonesia’s easternmost province of Papua, yet it said this didn’t affect the overall results in the region.

The Jakarta Composite Index rose 0.3 percent today to its highest close since May 22, 2013. The gauge reversed an intraday decline as the court read out the ruling. PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia gained 1.6 percent, providing the biggest boost for the index.

“It’s very difficult to see that the evidence supports the allegation of structured, massive and systematic fraud,” Keith Loveard, head of political risk at Jakarta-based security company Concord Consulting Inc., said before the ruling. This “appears to be the end of the road” for Prabowo, he said.

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