JAKARTA – Another messy split looms for the one-time political powerhouse Golkar, the party of Indonesia’s former dictator Suharto, following a rancorous annual conference over the past week. Aburizal Bakrie, a billionaire businessman, was re-elected as party leader on Wednesday evening after sidelining several senior party rivals who wanted Golkar to join the coalition government. In what sounded like a scene from British comedy classic Blackadder, a recording surfaced of a Bakrie aide telling delegates in Bali that he had a “cunning plan” to ensure Bakrie was re-elected. It worked: Bakrie won unopposed after his six opponents dropped out or refused to run, claiming the vote was tainted.
JAKARTA – On July 8, the day before Indonesia’s presidential election, legislators voted to amend key workings of the country’s parliament. Any other day, this would have been headline news. But the country was transfixed by the contest between Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Prabowo Subianto, then deemed too close to call but in the end won by Jokowi by a 6 per cent margin.
DILI — Adrian Vickers, professor of Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Sydney, told ISN Security Watch that for the most part, “the elections went off without a hitch, and more importantly (except for Aceh and Papua), without violence, so people are getting more used to the processes of democracy.” Running an election across such as vast and variegated country is not easy, and some claims of irregularities have emerged. However, in the main, the system seems to be working and at the macro-level, is helping maintain a stable Indonesia. Sunny Tanuwidjaja is an Indonesia analyst at Jakarta’s Centre for Strategic and International Studies. He described some of the democratic teething problems in Southeast Asia’s largest country to ISN Security Watch: “We have a lot of homework to do on issues such as religious freedom/pluralism, weak accountability mechanism between voters and the elected leaders, and lastly the technical aspects of the election have been badly managed by the General Election Commission.”