Public scrutiny shows problems in Prabowo’s legal challenge

L Cui San

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Typographical errors, inconsistent figures on how many votes are in dispute, handwritten notes and unsubstantiated allegations are found in the legal document

SERIOUS CHALLENGE? A lawyer of Indonesia's losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, Didi Supriyanto (2-L), accompanied by Firman Wijaya (L) Akbar Tanjung (2-R) and Mahendra Data (R), show an official receipt after filing a legal challenge against the presidential election result with the Constitutional Court on July 25, 2014. Photo by EPA

JAKARTA, Indonesia – After monitoring the counting of more than 130 million votes by going through almost 480,000 C1 forms or vote tabulation sheets, Indonesians have now turned their attention to the 146 pages that make up the lawsuit filed by Prabowo Subianto and Hatta Rajasa challenging the election results.

Citing massive, structural and systemic fraud, Prabowo and Hatta are asking for a recounting and revoting in 52,000 polling stations across Indonesia, 5,800 polling stations in Jakarta, as well as at several polling stations in Papua.

But as with the questionable math found in some of the C1 forms uploaded on the General Elections Commission (KPU) website, errors were likewise found – and widely reported over the weekend – in the lawsuit filed with Indonesia’s Constitutional Court on Friday night, July 25.  


For instance, much has been made of a missing 0.01 percentage point in the lawsuit’s version of what the election results should be. They claim Prabowo and Hatta secured 67,139,153 votes, or 50.25% of the total, while Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and his running mate Jusuf Kalla got only 66,435,124 votes or 49.74%. This only totals 99.99%. The correct calculation shows the votes Prabowo and Hatta claim are equal to 50.26% of the total.

A post in the Kaskus online forum makes fun of the erroneous calculation in Prabowo-Hatta's lawsuit, with a comment asking why the team couldn't afford a calculator.

In another widely talked about error, the lawsuit claims the election in West Papua “has been marred by numerous violations that are structured, systematic and massive conducted by local officials and tribal chiefs with a view to giving the victory to presidential and vice presidential candidate pair number 1.” That number, however, refers to Prabowo and Hatta.

On the online forum website Kaskus, users highlighted more mistakes, such as allegations of fraud in Bangka Belitung province under the section on Bengkulu, inconsistent figures on how many votes are in dispute, sections that seem to have been copied verbatim from other lawsuits, and handwritten notes on the legal document.  

A post on the Kaskus online forum highlighting mistakes in the Prabowo-Hatta lawsuit.

The Red and White Defense Team of 95 lawyers spearheading the legal challenge has dismissed these “typographical errors,” blaming the limited time they had to prepare the lawsuit. The losing camp is only given 3 days or 72 hours to file a legal challenge.

“It’s more important to look at the substance,” lawyer Maqdir Ismail said.

However, analysts point out these errors raise questions about the lawsuit’s credibility. Political analyst Arie Sudjito said the errors indicate the claims are not backed by solid evidence and show the Prabowo-Hatta camp’s incapacity to process information properly.

“I think the Constitutional Court challenge is just a short-term reaction to the loss. The camp is supposed to collect evidence before they file a constitutional challenge,” Arie said as quoted by

Subtantial problems

Others, such as volunteer groups for Jokowi, point out that more than typographical errors, the lawsuit does in fact have substantial problems, as it makes several unsubstantiated allegations.

For instance, it accused civil servants in 9 districts in West Papua – without saying which ones – of lobbying some of the tribal leaders to apply the noken voting system, where leaders vote on behalf of the entire tribe, a legal practice according to the Constitutional Court. KPU’s official results show Jokowi and Kalla received 67.63% of the votes in the province. 

Similarly, the lawsuit claimed cheating in the Timor Tengah Utara district of East Nusa Tenggara province, but did not provide information on which polling stations the fraud allegedly occurred.

The head of the Constitutional Court, Hamdan Zoelva, said the court gave Prabowo’s team time to revise its report. The first hearing of the case will be held on August 6. Hamdan will lead a full bench of 9 judges, which is expected to issue a verdict on August 21. The verdict cannot be appealed.

Jokowi, for his part, said on Monday, July 28, he wasn’t worried about the lawsuit, adding it was a “normal” part of the election process. At the same time, he said he appreciated the KPU’s efforts at transparency, including in making the C1 forms public. 

“We appreciate how the election was carried out. KPU was very open. People had access to the C1 forms. It has never been like this before,” he was quoted as saying. –

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