The decision of the Constitutional Court has rendered irrelevant talk of extending the presidential term. It is time to focus on preparing for the 2024 general election.
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In its decision on Tuesday (31/1/2023), the Constitutional Court emphasized that both the president and vice president are subjected to a two-term limit, whether those terms are served consecutively or not. The court’s decision reaffirms the provisions of Article 7 of the amended 1945 Constitution, which states that the a president and a vice president hold office for five years and can be reelected to the same position for only one additional term. The article also states that there is no reason to postpone the 2024 elections because the term of office for the president and vice president is five years each.
Previously, Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri also said during her party’s 50th anniversary on 10 Jan., “Well, if it has already been two [terms], then yes, sorry, it is only two terms.” (Kompas, 10/1/2023).
Preparations for the 2024 elections are also already underway. The General Elections Commission (KPU) has already announced the political parties taking part in the election. Political communication between the parties and both presidential and vice presidential hopefuls is also intensifying. Several surveys showed that the majority of the public want the 2024 elections to be held as scheduled.
Under these conditions, talk of extending the presidential term or postponing the 2024 elections for issues such as the economy and the pandemic are increasingly irrelevant and a waste of time. There would be a huge political, social and economic price to pay if this were to happen.
The court’s decision is further evidence that the country’s energy should be focused on safeguarding the road to the 2024 general election, so this democratic event can be held with quality. This means holding honest and fair elections without rampant hoaxes and money politics, in which credible and trustworthy candidates are offered and voters are encouraged to exercise their rights.
The election organizers are not the only ones responsible for meeting these expectations. It will also require the hard work and will of many parties, such as the political parties, to listen to the voice of the people and select candidates in a fair and transparent manner. Government support is also needed, particularly in providing the election budget and maintaining a conducive atmosphere in society.
The 2024 elections will take place in around a year from now, and the government needs to make more efforts to maintain unity and focus in the Cabinet as political executives grow increasingly preoccupied with election activities. Meanwhile, there are other challenges that won’t be easy to overcome, such as continuing to recover the economy.
However, the government’s successes so far, such as infrastructure development and pandemic management, has shown that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s strong political will can contribute to creating a healthy democratic climate for the 2024 elections.