JAKARTA — On Wednesday next week, perhaps the world’s most logistically-challenging elections will take place across Indonesia’s 3,000 mile wide, 13,000 island archipelago. Over 192 million people are eligible to vote at over 800,000 polling stations overseen by 6 million election officials, with roughly 245,000 candidates contesting around 20,000 seats for local and national legislatures. India’s elections, which started last week, entail much bigger numbers, around 900 million voters — the biggest elections the world has ever seen — but voting there is staggered and will run until May 19. Indonesia’s elections take place on a single day, April 17, and most eyes will be on the presidential race, a re-run of the 2014 contest between President Joko Widodo, known by his nickname Jokowi, and Prabowo Subianto, a former general.
JAKARTA –The presidential election in Indonesia next year may see a reprise of the testy 2014 contest between President Joko Widodo and retired general Prabowo Subianto after both men registered their candidacies Friday. The incumbent, popularly known as Jokowi, selected a 75-year-old cleric as his running mate, a move designed to shore up his support from Islamists as he seeks a second five-year term leading the world’s most populous Muslim country. Jokowi is the early favorite to win the April election as a former political outsider who has spent his first term focusing on infrastructure projects. He is the first president from outside Indonesia’s political and military elite since the dictator Suharto resigned in 1998.
JAKARTA — In a campaign laced with religious and ethnic tensions, the minority Christian governor of Indonesia’s sprawling capital was unseated by a former education minister backed by conservative Islamists, unofficial results showed Wednesday. With nearly all the votes counted, Indonesian polling companies said Anies Baswedan won around 60% of the vote in a runoff election to lead the city of 10 million people, soundly defeating incumbent Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian of Chinese descent. The bitter campaign evolved into a test of ethnic and religious tolerance in the world’s most populous Muslim nation, long seen as a bastion of moderate Islam. Purnama, better known as “Ahok,” is facing blasphemy charges over remarks that allegedly insulted Islam’s holy book, the Koran. Hundreds of thousands of Islamist demonstrators took to the streets during the campaign, demanding that Purnama be jailed.
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 – Widodo has come under fire in social media for aspects of his presidency so far, with critics and supporters alike lambasting his perceived indecision after Indonesia’s unloved national police filed charges against leaders of the country’s popular Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), which had branded Widodo’s nominee for new police chief a corruption suspect. Widodo’s electoral success had partly been down to his own clean image and his anti-graft rhetoric, so it is little wonder, perhaps, that Widodo has kept his own fingers off the “send” button as millions of Indonesians weigh in, often using hashtags such as #SaveKPK and #Shameonyoujokowi.
JAKARTA – Indonesia’s government has proposed boosting capital spending on infrastructure to Rp 290 trillion (US$23 billion) this year, a doubling of last year’s Rp139 billion that is intended to drive much-needed development across the archipelago. Aziz Pane, chairman of Indonesia’s Tyre Manufacturers Association, blames lagging investment in infrastructure for problems including inefficiencies and high costs in Indonesia’s rubber and other agricultural sectors. “We need roads, we need harbors,” Pane said. “That is both for farmers getting raw material to producer, and for producer distributing later on.”
SOLO – Even before Jokowi took office as president, Indonesian democracy was dealt a blow when MPs allied to Prabowo – who needed an August constitutional court ruling to tell him he had lost the election – voted to end Indonesia’s system of directly electing heads of local government – the same format that enabled Jokowi get his start in politics in Solo back in 2005. “If there wasn’t any direct election, he [Jokowi] would still be selling furniture,” said Asti Suryo, assistant manager of the Danar Hadi museum in Solo
JAKARTA – Ryamizard Ryacudu, another former army head and a Megawati loyalist, received the Defence portfolio. His appointment will hardly go down well in Aceh, where he led the army’s 2003 campaign to crush local rebels, or in West Papua, where he is said to have applauded the assassination of a prominent local rights campaigner. “It is notable that Jokowi has broken with a convention that the Defence Minister is a civilian,” said Michael Buehler, a southeast Asia specialist at the School of African and Oriental Studies. “The appointment is a real disappointment,” Buehler told The Edge Review.
JAKARTA – After a bruising election campaign, former businessman Joko Widodo was sworn in Monday as president of Indonesia, becoming the first man from outside the country’s political and military elite to lead the world’s 10th-largest economy. Tens of thousands took to Jakarta’s sun-scorched streets to hail Joko, widely known as “Jokowi,” who won the closest election since the Southeast Asian nation dispensed with a military dictatorship in 1998.
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.