A different chief justice running for president? (Indonesia)

There’s been quite a bit of speculation regarding former Constitutional Court chief justice Mahfud MD’s presidential ambitions. However, according to The Jakarta Post, Mahfud’s predecessor, Jimly Asshiddiqie, has suggested that he might contest in the Democratic Party primary election. Jimly has not officially announced – as chairman of the Election Organizers Ethics Council (DKPP) he must remain neutral – but he has suggested that he would run if asked.

Two questions about Jimly’s candidacy spring to mind. First, is Jimly visible enough to win the primary? His reputation as chief justice was nearly impeccable, but he has not been on the court for almost 5 years. Moreover, the average Indonesian voter during his term (2003-2008) knew very little about the Constitutional Court. Second, what would Jimly’s constituencies be? Would he appeal to technocrats or progressives? Unlike Mahfud, it’s not clear Jimly has built-in support amongst Islamic groups.

Of course, it’s still early to speculate. One possibility is that Jimly uses the primary to demonstrate his electoral strength, even he does not win outright. This could lead to a vice-presidential nomination. He also has time to build his political base for the 2019 elections if need be – after all, he is only 56 years old!

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