Citizens Propose Age Limits for Presidential Tickets

Purgatorio Siahaan, legal counsel for Petitioner of case No. 96/PUU-XXI/2023 conveying the petition at the preliminary hearing of the judicial review of Law No. 7 of 2017 on General Elections, Thursday (9/7/2023). Photo by MKRI/Ifa.

JAKARTA (MKRI) — The provision on the age limit for presidential and vice-presidential candidates in Article 169 letter q of Law No. 7 of 2017 on General Elections (Election Law) has been challenged once again in the Constitutional Court (MK). At the preliminary hearing on Thursday, September 7, 2023, law student of Universitas Sebelas Maret Surakarta Arkaan Wahyu, citizen Guy Rangga Boro, and citizen Riko Andi Sinaga conveyed their petition in cases No. 91/PUU-XXI/2023, 93/PUU-XXI/2023, and 96/PUU-XXI/2023, respectively. The hearing was presided over by Deputy Chief Justice Saldi Isra (panel chair) and Constitutional Justices Manahan M. P. Sitompul and Suhartoyo.

Utomo Kurniawan and Ilyas Satria Agung, legal counsels for the Petitioner of case No. 91/PUU-XXI/2023, asserted that leadership qualities and competencies do not correlate with the age of a leader. The Petitioner illustrated this by making a comparison between a 40-year-old presidential or vice-presidential nominated without any experience to a 21-year-old with experience being a leader at the regional level for several years and leading a company. Therefore, based on logical reasoning, the Petitioner argued, the younger person in that instance would qualify as a better leader than the 40-year-old. Allowing people who are at least 21 years old to become presidential and vice-presidential candidates would not result in incompetent leaders because it would only give all Indonesian citizens the opportunity to vote and be elected in general elections.

“The Petitioner hereby requests that the Court rule the petition with the verdict [requiring] the amendment to Article 169 letter q of the Election Law relating to the requirement to become presidential and vice-presidential candidates of at least 40 years old to at least 21 years old,” said Ilyas, who attended the hearing online.

Leadership Experience

Next, the Petitioner of case No. 96/PUU-XXI/2023 argued that he has the right to elect and be elected in elections. Through legal counsel Purgatorio Siahaan, he argued that the restriction in Article 169 letter q of the Election Law has kept him from running for president/vice president, thus his right to equality has been eliminated due to the discriminating provision. In the petition, he argued that in Argentina and Colombia, presidential and vice-presidential candidates should be at least 30 years old. France passed an even lower age limit of 18 years. He also revealed Indonesian regional heads who have experience in leadership and whose workload he believes do not fare too different from a president and vice president.

“The Petitioner requests that the Court rule the case with a verdict to declare that the phrase ‘at least 40 years of age’ in Article 169 letter q of the Election Law unconstitutional and not legally binding if not interpreted as ‘at least 25 years of age,’” Siahaan said directly from the plenary courtroom.

Adult by Law

Meanwhile, the Petitioner of case No. 93/PUU-XXI/2023 argued in court that individual citizens who have reached adulthood according to law must be given recognition, guarantees, protection, fair legal certainty, and equal treatment before the law and government. He believes the current age limit for presidential and vice-presidential candidates to be discriminatory. To strengthen his argument, he compared a number of laws in Indonesia related to age limit to hold an office, for example Law No. 12 of 2006 on Citizenship which state the age of adulthood is above 18 years, the Civil Code which states that adults are those who reach the age of 21 years and have been married, the Decree of the Minister of Home Affairs No. Dpt.7/539/7-77 dated July 13, 1977 which states that adulthood can be considered as: a. political adulthood with the limit of 17 years to be able to participate in elections, c. legal adulthood being a certain age limit according to law where one is considered capable of acting by law.

Justices’ Advice

Constitutional Justice Manahan M. P. Sitompul advised the Petitioner of case No. 91/PUU-XXI/2023 to pay attention to the background of the petition, which is based on the age limit of 21 years for parliamentary members. He requested that a contrast be made against Article 27 paragraph (1) and Article 28D paragraph (1) of the 1945 Constitution.

“So, the petitum must be clarified and emphasized. On one hand, the request was to amend, but this is not the Court’s jurisdiction but the House’s. Petitums 2 and 3 are contradictory. Please review them so they wouldn’t be contradictory,” he said.

For case No. 96/PUU-XXI/2023, he advised the Petitioner to elaborate his presumed potential and factual impairment in the legal standing, to exercise caution relating to the articles used as touchstone, and to prove the contradiction between the norm petitioned and the provisions in the Constitution that guarantee his constitutional rights.

Next, Constitutional Justice Suhartoyo highlighted the constitutional loss argued by the Petitioner of case No. 91/PUU-XXI/2023, since he requested that 21 years be set as the age limit while he was not yet 21 when he filed the petition.

“The other petitioners also want to run as president. Unlike being voters, where there are options and so it is more flexible. If the basis is the wish to run as president, if the limit was set at 21 or 25 it wouldn’t be fair because the more options the more competitors there would be,” he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Justice Saldi Isra requested that the Petitioners of the three cases provide arguments to support their preferred age limits. “Why 21, 25 years are not against the 1945 Constitution. Find the reason. The justices will judge this,” he said.

Before adjourning the session, Deputy Chief Justice Saldi informed the Petitioners that they had 14 workdays to revise the petition and submit it no later than Wednesday, September 20, 2023 at 09:00 WIB to the Registrar’s Office, who would notify them of the next hearing schedule.

Author       : Sri Pujianti
Editor        : Lulu Anjarsari P.
PR            : Andhini S.F.
Translator  : Yuniar Widiastuti (NL)

Disclaimer: The original version of the news is in Indonesian. In case of any differences between the English and the Indonesian versions, the Indonesian version will prevail.

Thursday, September 07, 2023 | 16:29 WIB 169