While Indonesia's losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto is still busy challenging last month's election results at the Constitutional Court, president-elect Joko Widodo, better known as Jokowi, has already laid ground rules for how he wishes to arrange his cabinet. The court is due to announce its verdict on the election on Thursday, and it now seems highly unlikely that the result will disrupt Jokowi's plans for the presidency.
More than a month on from the election, Indonesian voters have generally accepted the results announced on 22 July by the General Elections Commission (KPU), which delivered the presidency to Jokowi at a split of 53% of the votes to Prabowo's 47%. Jokowi has returned for now to his position as Jakarta governor, awaiting his inauguration as president in October.
Heavy security was deployed in Jakarta ahead of the KPU's announcement, with some fearing that violence could erupt from either side at news of a defeat. Fortunately, the results were received peaceably, though this was in no way helped by the reaction of Prabowo and his supporters.
After refusing to accept the results of reputable quick counts and claiming victory for himself on election day, Prabowo announced hours before the release of the official count that he would 'withdraw' from the election, an ambiguous statement that left constitutional law experts scratching their heads about whether it would have any bearing on the results. Most concluded that it wouldn't, while some even suggested that Prabowo could face heavy fines or jail time for violating the presidential election law with his withdrawal.
When official results showed that Jokowi and his running mate Jusuf Kalla had won the vote, their supporters were asked in the interests of security to celebrate privately rather than on the streets as they had done on election day. Meanwhile, Prabowo and his running mate Hatta Rajasa urged supporters to publicly 'secure' the vote at the KPU office, and embarked on a campaign to delegitimise the election results. They released a public statement alleging 'structural, massive and systematic' electoral fraud and claimed that their right to a democratic election had been violated.
The case was taken to the Constitutional Court, which after a recent scandal that saw its chief justice jailed on bribery charges, is eager to regain public trust.
From the start, the court described Prabowo and Hatta's lawsuit as unclear, unconvincing and riddled with spelling errors, a clear signal that the court would not easily reject the results of the KPU. Having agreed to hear testimony from 25 of the 52,000 witnesses the Prabowo team claimed to be able to put forward, the court has grown increasingly impatient over the course of the trial as witnesses have failed to provide convincing evidence of cheating. Some have only been able to provide second-hand reports of money politics, while others have been accused of making logical leaps in their testimony, as in the case of one witness who produced a newspaper clipping reporting Surabaya mayor Tri Rismaharini's public congratulation of Jokowi on his victory as evidence of vote-rigging in the East Java capital.
Outside the courtroom, Prabowo's support base is reportedly shrinking. The results of a national survey by the Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI) released last week showed that if another election were to take place today, Jokowi would remain the victor, with an even bigger margin of support at about 57.06% of the vote to 30.39% for Prabowo, and 12.55% retreating to the category of 'undecided'. Crowds have dutifully gathered outside the Constitutional Court in a show of support for Prabowo throughout the trial, though even these supporters were reported to be losing interest when demonstration organisers failed to provide enough of the obligatory rice boxes to go around on Friday afternoon.
It's unclear how Prabowo will react to what now appears will be a certain loss for his appeal at the Constitutional Court. However, with waning support for his failed presidential bid, it's looking unlikely that the announcement could spark any public unrest. As Jokowi makes quiet preparations to take power in the coming months, it appears that Indonesia is ready to accept him as its democratically elected president.
Photo by Flickr user Charles Wiriawan.