Allies of President-elect Joko Widodo are working to overturn a new law that ends direct regional elections in Indonesia, a battle that will require a Constitutional Court decision to succeed soon. Lawmakers on Friday passed a law that ends the world’s third-largest democracy’s nine-year experiment with direct elections for mayors, governors and others. The law empowers elected regional councils to appoint these leaders instead. Indonesia’s presidency will still be chosen in direct elections by voters every five years. The legislative vote was won by a coalition of parties who opposed Mr. Widodo in Indonesia’s presidential election this year. The coalition was led by the party of Prabowo Subianto, a former army general in the era of authoritarian ruler Suharto who lost a hard-fought election against Mr. Widodo in July. Mr. Subianto’s allies argued that elections are too expensive in the sprawling nation of 250 million, among other things.
The new law is deeply unpopular among voters. A leading pollster showed more than 80% of Indonesians support direct elections. Thousands of people rallied outside the legislature during the bill’s deliberations.
The law can be undone only if the Constitutional Court overturns it in a judicial review, or future lawmakers amend it. This week, one or more judicial reviews will be filed with the court by citizens and political parties, among others, which could return a decision within a month, lawyers said.
Andi Asrun, a constitutional-law lawyer mounting a judicial review on behalf of a group of pollsters, citizens and others, said there is a strong chance that the Constitutional Court would overturn the law because it affects citizens’ voting rights.