“Will Presidential Hopeful Prabowo be Able to Change the Final Result of the Indonesian Election?” by Budi Irawanto

2019/46, 24 May 2019
After the Indonesian Election Commission (KPU) completed the vote recapitulation and officially announced the final results on 21 May 2019, a mass rally by Prabowo Subianto’s supporters was held in front of the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) office in Central Jakarta to express disappointment with Prabowo’s defeat. The street protests turned violent late at night on 21 May. According to the KPU, Joko Widodo (Jokowi) garnered 55.5 percent (85,607,362) of total valid votes, while Prabowo garnered 44.5 percent (68,650,239). The official announcement was released at 1.46 am on 21 May, one day earlier than the initial plan to release the results on 22 May 2019. Prabowo criticized KPU for making the announcement while “people were asleep”. However, the KPU argued that it was better not to delay the announcement once the recapitulation had been completed. The immediate announcement by KPU was a way to avoid potential accusations that KPU had manipulated the election results.  
Previously, the Prabowo camp had questioned the integrity and independence of the KPU and Bawaslu, accusing both of favoring the incumbent president Jokowi. The Prabowo camp also distrusted the results of quick counts by pollsters, trusting only its own internal real count which indicated that Prabowo was leading by 62 percent (later revised to 54 percent) and therefore refusing to concede defeat.

When the KPU announced the official results, the Prabowo camp did not accept the outcome and had initially suggested that they would mobilize “people power” (Aksi Kedaulatan Rakyat) or resort to street protests rather than appeal to the Constitutional Court, alleging that the court would not provide justice. Prior to the official announcement of the election results, the Prabowo campaign team (BPN) had reported cases of election fraud to Bawaslu. However, Bawaslu had refused to follow up, citing the lack of credible evidence, since the BPN had only provided the links of online news and copies of screenshots of online news. According to Bawaslu, the Prabowo team should submit videos, letters and documents as material evidence for their complaint. 
Later in the day on 21 May 2019, Prabowo finally decided to go to the Constitutional Court to file his complaint, with the support of party cadres in North Sumatera, Central and East Java, Bali, East Nusa Tenggara and Papua, who claimed to have evidence that there was electoral fraud. While choosing the legal avenue to settle the election dispute, Prabowo continued to endorse street protests by his supporters.   However, it is unlikely that the Prabowo camp will win the legal challenge at the Constitutional Court since they would be required to provide credible evidence to back up their accusation of systematic and massive electoral fraud. A legal expert estimated that Prabowo would need to provide evidence of at least 100 fraud cases from almost 200,000 out of the 810,329 polling stations in order to change the election results. Otherwise, he may get to change the vote count slightly, but that will not change the electoral outcome.   

Dr Budi Irawanto is Visiting Fellow in the Indonesia Studies Programme at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute.

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