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Indonesia: Party Sues Election Commission over Disqualification

(Mar. 21, 2014) On March 17, 2014, Hatta Rajasa, the chairman of Indonesia’s National Mandate Party (Partai Amanat Nasional or PAN), announced that the party has filed a lawsuit against the General Elections Commission (Komisi Pemilihan Umum or KPU) because the KPU had disqualified the party from participating in the legislative election in Pelalawan, in Riau Islands Province. (PAN Sues KPU for Alleged Wrongful Disqualification, THE JAKARTA POST (Mar. 17, 2014).)

The disqualification was based on the party’s failure to submit campaign finance information on time. PAN has argued that an extension should have been given, because the reason the report was late was that the person assigned to submit it was in a traffic accident. Hatta called it “a case of ‘force majeure’.” (Id.)

PAN is one of nine political parties that missed the March 2 filing deadline and were disqualified by the KPU. Hadar Nafis Gumay, the KPU Commissioner, stated on March 15 that candidates associated with those parties could not run. The action affected candidates in 17 provinces; the parties involved have the right to appeal the decision to the Elections Supervisory Body. (Id.; KPU Hands Down Sanctions for Missing Campaign Finance Reports, THE JAKARTA GLOBE (Mar. 15, 2014).)

Gumay explained that “[s]ome parties submitted reports after the deadline without explanation. Some others did not submit the reports at all. We have to adhere to the law.” (PAN Sues KPU for Alleged Wrongful Disqualification, supra.) He also said that dispensations were given to parties in some areas when conditions justified delays. “We really take into account force majeure conditions, such as accidents and natural disasters that may cause a delay in the submission of a campaign finance report.” (Id.)

The mission of the KPU is to manage general elections, to improve their quality so that elections are clean and efficient, to make sure that participants are treated fairly according to the laws in force, and to increase public awareness of elections. (Visi dan Misi [Vision and Mission], KPU website (last visited Mar. 17, 2014).) Under article 6 of the Law on Legislative Elections, the KPU has the authority to conduct elections. (Law of the Republic of Indonesia on Legislative Elections (Aug. 15, 2012), Law No. 8, 2012 [unofficial translation], arts. 4, 82 & 83, ASIAN NETWORK FOR FREE ELECTIONS.)