JAKARTA — Local elections will be held simultaneously across Indonesia for the first time on Wednesday, after the issue of whether to directly elect mayors and other local government leaders spurred ructions, recriminations and walkouts in the national parliament last year. Back then, parties supporting President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who had just been elected to office, voted to retain the decade-old system of direct local elections, but the parties backing the losing presidential candidate, Prabowo Subianto, successfully voted to scrap it. Given that Indonesia had just elected Widodo, a former governor of Jakarta and mayor of Surakarta, as president, the assault on voters’ rights prompted a massive public outcry. The backlash was strong enough to not only prompt then-President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to issue a decree overturning the vote, but convinced parliament to boost the status of local elections. “There are 365 days in the year, there are more than 540 election locations,” Arief Budiman, a commissioner at the KPU, the Indonesian election commission, told the Nikkei Asian Review. “Before, we were constantly monitoring another election.”
JAKARTA – Ahead of taking office as Indonesia’s next president on October 20, Joko Widodo has been given an unsolicited crash course in the country’s dirty politics. Defeated presidential rival Prabowo Subianto is still seething and has shown both the money and the manpower to use parliament to undermine Jokowi, as the incoming president is popularly known. “We realise we have many tasks ahead of us,” said Hasto Kristyanto, a member of Joko’s small “transition team” that has been working in downtown Jakarta since July.
JAKARTA – While Widodo didn’t spend very long in office in Jakarta – a job described by some as the 3rd most powerful in Indonesia, he did enough to convince former President Megawati Sukarnoputri – daughter of Sukarno, the country’s first President – to set aside her ambitions to run again and throw her Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) behind Widodo.