Extra-Constitutional Actions of the President of the Republic of Indonesia Throughout Time

Mafhud MD, a legal expert knowledgeable in constitutional matters, often articulates the following perspective: The state may undertake actions beyond the confines of the constitution in the interest of “salus populi,” which translates to the safety or well-being of the nation.

Read Jokowi and Political Dynasty

Within the context of “salus populi,” we observe the actions of the presidents of the Republic of Indonesia throughout various periods that transcend constitutional bounds.

Since the establishment of the Republic of Indonesia on August 17, 1945, presidents have taken actions that can be termed “extra-constitutional.” Here are some examples of such actions:

  1. Bung Karno with the July 1, 1959 Decree:
    • On July 1, 1959, President Sukarno issued a decree that granted him greater powers. This decree changed the government system from parliamentary to presidential and gave the President the authority to dissolve the MPR (People’s Consultative Assembly) and take over legislative powers.
  2. Soeharto directly appointing his successor, BJ Habibie:
    • After Soeharto’s resignation in 1998, he appointed BJ Habibie as the successor president without going through an election. This action is considered extra-constitutional as it did not adhere to the constitutional procedures governing presidential elections.
  3. Gus Dur issuing a Decree to dissolve the MPR:
    • In 2001, President Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur) issued a decree to dissolve the MPR. This action was considered extra-constitutional as the MPR played a crucial role in the Indonesian constitution.
  4. Megawati issuing a law allowing presidential candidates to have a high school diploma:
    • Megawati Soekarnoputri enacted a law allowing presidential candidates to have formal education only up to high school (SMA). This action could be seen as an extra-constitutional intervention in presidential qualification requirements.
  5. SBY enacting a law on the 20% threshold:
    • President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) enacted a law setting a 20% threshold for political parties in general elections. This action may be considered an extra-constitutional step in regulating the threshold that affects political competition.
  6. Jokowi facilitating the Constitutional Court’s decision on the age limit for presidential/vice-presidential candidates:
    • President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) facilitated the implementation of the Constitutional Court’s decision to remove the age limit for presidential and vice-presidential candidates. Although the Constitutional Court is an independent institution, the government’s steps to facilitate its decisions can be viewed as part of an extra-constitutional process.

Necessary steps in the political context
It is important to note that assessments of these actions may vary, and some may be seen as necessary steps in the political context and circumstances of the time.

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However, the use of extra-constitutional powers is often a subject of controversy and debate in society.

Illustration source: https://cermin-dunia.github.io/

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