Yesterday, presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto held a meeting for foreign journalists in Jakarta (no local media outlets, including the Jakarta Post, were invited apparently) to brief them on his campaign’s long list of election fraud claims. In turn, Prabowo was pressed on what he would do should the official election results not go his way and he replied that, unlike in 2014 when he made similar fraud claims after losing to President Joko Widodo the first time, he “would not accept a fraudulent election”.
It’s been just about 3 weeks since Indonesia’s April 17 election and, despite the ongoing real vote count’s continued validation of the same-day quick count polls that predicted a win of over 10% for the incumbent, Prabowo Subianto and his supporters continue to attack the legitimacy of the election, with what seems like increasing vitriol each day.
Yesterday’s session with the foreign media saw Prabowo, alongside his running mate Sandiaga Uno and senior members of his campaign team, present what they declared to be proof of massive and systemic election fraud.
Instead of an invite, local media outlets received a press release this morning from Prabowo’s senior economic advisor, Rizal Ramli, detailing eight points that were presented to the foreign media.
The first point was that the supposed fraud that took place during the election has been an insult to Indonesia’s democracy and delegitimized Joko Widodo’s victory.
“Once the facts are revealed, a leader who takes power through fraudulent elections is deemed illegitimate by the people and thus loses his ability to govern effectively,” said the release, as picked up by Tempo.
Most of the other points concern Prabowo and his campaign’s evidence of election fraud. So what evidence do they have exactly? The fourth point in the release said that photos taken by his supporters at each of the country’s 800,000 polling stations and based on their campaign’s audit of 477,000 of them, 73,715 had incorrect data on their C1 forms (which are used to log all of the votes at a particular polling station).
The fifth point concerned systemic effort by Jokowi’s administration to manipulate the electoral system, including a lack of invitations to credible international observers, inadequate cybersecurity for the General Election Commission (KPU) and the illegal use of government resources for his campaign.
The sixth point argued that the April 17 election was made needlessly complicated by holding both the presidential election and legislative elections on the same day, which led into the seventh point regarding the seemingly high number of deaths among election officials that had been working that day.
For the last point, the release says that Prabowo and his camp would continue to collect evidence of election fraud and would pursue their charges even after the KPU releases its official results on or before May 22.
“We should not see this story end on May 22. We must convey this case to the public transparently and let them decide what to do,” the final sentence of the release says.
Prabowo was apparently specifically pressed by foreign journalists on that last point during his meeting with them yesterday. According to a report by the Straits Times, Prabowo was asked numerous questions about whether he would mount a legal challenge of the official results with the Constitutional Court, as he did, unsuccessfully, in 2014 after his first loss to Jokowi.
The Gerindra chairman would not offer a firm answer on whether he would mount another court challenge, but said his team was “pessimistic” that they could find justice in the court system.
Regarding whether he would encourage his supporters to protest the results, Prabowo said, “Whatever the people do, it’s the decision of the people. I’m not a dictator. I will not say do this or that… I will not call people to go to the streets, but I am convinced they will. Because, if you look at history, the Indonesian people are not goats. They’re not going to just accept.”
Prabowo said that this time around would not be like the first time he lost to President Jokowi. “This time, I will not accept a fraudulent outcome. In 2014, I really did not accept in my heart, but for the good of the country, I gave it the benefit of the doubt. I came to the inauguration, I congratulated (Jokowi),” he said.
“For the good of the people, for the good of democracy, I wanted to be a good sport, but this time the violations are too much. So it’s impossible. I will not accept a fraudulent election,” he added.
Also yesterday, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Wiranto held a press conference saying the government would take stern action against any group or individual seeking to delegitimize the 2019 elections and that they would not form a team to follow up on it. He did not specifically refer to Prabowo’s campaign but did allude to social media being one of the sources for such disinformation.