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    Southeast Asia
     Mar 13, '14

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Election threatens democracy in Indonesia
By David Adam Stott

If Jokowi is confirmed as its presidential candidate before the April elections, most polls suggest the PDI-P would likely make significant gains in parliament, and overall voter turnout would also increase. [15] Jokowi's candidacy seems likely to draw in many young voters who otherwise would not participate in the elections, and the party needs to secure as many seats in parliament as possible to avoid being forced into a coalition. As Yudhoyono discovered, coalition governments reduce a president's room for maneuver, a situation that could be replicated under a Jokowi-led coalition. However, Megawati could be anxious about losing her family's control of the party to Jokowi if she backs him for this year's presidential elections.

Before Jokowi's rise to prominence, Megawati had apparently been grooming her son Prananda Prabowo for leadership of the

party, whilst Megawati's late husband Taufik Kiemas had been backing their daughter Puan Maharani for the role. [16] Under a Jokowi presidency, Megawati could instead become a powerful kingmaker - akin to India's Sonia Gandhi - but even without Jokowi the PDI-P is calculating that it could still win the most votes through being the main opposition to Yudhoyono's unpopular government. Were he not to be selected by the PDI-P it is likely that Jokowi would be approached by other parties to be a vice presidential candidate.

Jokowi first established a reputation for clean and innovative governance when mayor of Solo in Central Java. His achievements there included revitalizing public spaces, easing traffic congestion, improving health care delivery, promoting investment and rebranding the city as a Javanese cultural center to rival nearby Yogyakarta. He was re-elected mayor with over 90% of the vote. Since becoming governor of Jakarta he has made a name for himself nationally, gaining a reputation for transparency in the midst of a corrupt political system by attempting to replicate his success in Solo.

For instance, his deputy uploads recordings of meetings on YouTube and the pair publishes their own salary details online. A reputation for clean governance served Yudhoyono very well at the ballot box until it began to unravel in his second term. Unlike Yudhoyono however, Jokowi appears humble and approachable on his regular walkabouts to meet local residents, an approach he pioneered in Solo. These unscheduled tours often take in the city's most deprived areas and sometimes involve uninvited appearances at local government offices. Such a hands-on style is a major reason for his high approval ratings both in Jakarta and further afield. In particular, Jokowi's informal style appeals to young voters who are eligible to vote in national elections for the first time.

As governor Jokowi has attempted to tackle Jakarta's startling social disparities by instituting several pro-poor policies. Soon after his election in October 2012 he introduced smartcards to provide free access to health care and education for needy residents. The Jakarta Health Card (Kartu Jakarta Sehat, KJS) programme entitles cardholders to free health services at all community health centers and some hospitals across the city. The governor had a target to enroll half of Jakarta's residents in the scheme by the end of 2013. Likewise, the Jakarta Smart Card (Kartu Jakarta Pintar, KJP) enables students from underprivileged families who hold the card to Rp240,000 (US $21) each month in financial aid to pay for educational materials, stationary, uniforms, transport and even food. [17]

Jokowi's administration has also established affordable housing for some Jakarta residents, and boldly increased the minimum wage by 44% for 2013. [18] These social initiatives have been made possible by an increase in tax revenues generated by the capital's booming trade and service sector, and by the fact that between 2007 and 2012 Jakarta actually ran a budget surplus of 15-20%. [19]

The governor has also improved revenue raising ability by widening the scope of e-government and online transactions. This has enabled his administration to improve the tax take and reduce opportunities for bribery without increasing taxes, as bureaucrats now have fewer direct dealings with business people. Jokowi has also attempted to tackle Jakarta's chronic gridlock by reviving long-stalled plans to install a mass transit rail network, funded by loans from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and has been upgrading bus services in the meantime. Polls suggest that most Jakarta residents want him to see out his first term as governor, which ends in 2017. [20]

Jokowi's victory in the Jakarta gubernatorial elections against the incumbent Fauzi Bowo, who was backed by Yudhoyono, was perceived as a victory for a new generation of politician over an older, more patrimonial style of politics. Indeed, 52 year-old Jokowi is the only presidential challenger to have arisen from the reformasi democratic era, and unlike many Indonesian politicians does not hail from a privileged background. His policies aimed at Jakarta's poorest residents also represent a break with the past.

As a newcomer to the national political arena Jokowi would face new challenges as president, however. In particular, he would have to deal with the financial backers that fund an expensive presidential campaign and a military that might try to claw back some of its political power. Moreover, there is the question of whether he would be able to push through his own policies or would merely be a proxy for PDI-P leader Megawati, during whose conservative presidency there was little appetite for reform. In opposition, the party vociferously opposed the Yudhoyono government's plans to decease fuel subsidies, and in March 2014 unveiled a party platform critical of foreign investment.

Trailing second behind Jokowi in most presidential polls has been former Special Forces Commander Prabowo Subianto of Gerindra, campaigning on a platform of pro-poor and pro-agriculture protectionist policies. The Kompas mid-January poll predicted he would win 11.1% of the presidential vote if he participated. Unable to secure the backing of Golkar as its presidential candidate, Prabowo and his wealthy tycoon brother Hashim Djojohadikusum founded Gerindra specifically to contest the 2009 presidential elections. In a campaign notable for the party's lavish spending on television advertising, it garnered 4.5% of the vote in the 2009 parliamentary elections and could not build the necessary alliances to field Prabowo as a presidential candidate. Instead, Prabowo ran as running mate to the PDI-P's Megawati, and the pair won 27% of the vote in losing to incumbent Yudhoyono, who secured 61%. For the 2014 elections Prabowo's brother, who also financed Gerindra's 2009 campaign, has contracted a leading New York advertising agency to improve his sibling's electability.

Prabowo is the son of Sumitro, an influential economist who held cabinet posts under both Sukarno and Suharto, and was a controversial figure during the late Suharto period. His rapid rise up the military hierarchy was seen as closely linked to his marriage to Suharto's second daughter Siti Hediati Hariyadi. Having held command posts in both East Timor and West Papua he has been implicated in several cases of human-rights abuse, and also played an incendiary role in the riots and demonstrations that accompanied the fall of his then father-in-law in 1998. Prabowo was widely believed to be agitating to become Suharto's successor, firstly by capturing the post of Armed Forces Commander held by General Wiranto. Troops under Prabowo's command acted as agent provocateurs in kidnapping and disappearing student activists and stoking the 1998 riots, apparently in order to portray Wiranto as weak for not dealing more forcefully with the protests.

However, Suharto's successor BJ Habibie faced down Prabowo's demand to be appointed Armed Forces Commander and Wiranto kept his post. Prabowo subsequently spent a period of exile in Jordan, before returning to Indonesia to join his brother's resource extraction business and begin his political career.

It has been widely forecast that Gerindra would be unlikely to secure more than 10% of the vote in this year's parliamentary elections, meaning that an alliance with the Yudhoyono's PD would be necessary for Prabowo to have a run at the presidency. If such an alliance does not materialize Gerindra might instead have to persuade some smaller Muslim parties to support its leader's candidacy, especially since Prabowo was strongly associated with so-called 'Green' Muslim factions in the armed forces in the mid-1990s. [21] Yet that strategy appears hamstrung by the continuing electoral weakness of Muslim-based parties in Indonesia and possibly by the fact that Prabowo remains single after divorcing Suharto's daughter in 1998.

Prabowo's brother and chief campaign financier is also a devout Christian. The PPP is predicted to secure at least 5% of the vote, to make it the largest Muslim-based party in the next parliament, but its chairman Suryadharma Ali seems to have implacable personal differences with Prabowo which would seemingly preclude the PPP backing Gerindra. Two other such parties, the PKB and the National Mandate Party (Partai Amanat Nasional, PAN), are both thought capable of winning up to 4% of the vote and Gerindra has recently been in discussions with PAN chairman Hatta Rajasa to be Prabowo's running mate. [22]

Gerindra might also secure an alliance with the Prosperous Justice Party (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera, PKS), but pollsters believe that it will also struggle to obtain more than 5%. The National Democrat Party (Nasdem) and the Indonesian Justice and Unity Party (Partai Keadilan dan Persatuan Indonesia, PKPI) are two new parties that are expected to win less than 2%, rendering them of marginal significance in forging presidential election alliances. Prabowo's former military nemesis Wiranto also established his own electoral vehicle Hanura to contest the 2009 elections.

Although Wiranto faces many of the same challenges as Prabowo in securing alliances he is not as divisive a candidate. In the late Suharto years he was part of the so-called 'red and white' secular nationalist faction of the military elite which opposed Prabowo's "green" Islamic faction. [23] As Armed Forces Commander from February 1998 to October 1999, Wiranto was a central player in the early reformasi period, in which he resisted hardliners such as Prabowo by refusing to impose military rule.

Instead he played something of a restraining role during the post-Suharto transition, and subsequently supported the reduction of the military's reserved seats in parliament and the separation of the police from the armed forces. However, Wiranto (along with five other generals) was also indicted by the UN-backed Special Crimes Unit in East Timor for crimes against humanity for failing to stop the razing of East Timor by the Indonesian military and its militias, after that territory's vote for independence in 1999.

He entered politics as Golkar's candidate in the 2004 presidential elections, placing third in the contest behind Yudhoyono and Megawati with 22.19% of the votes. In the 2009 elections, he campaigned unsuccessfully for the vice presidency as running mate to Golkar chairman Jusuf Kalla. Wiranto has placed fourth in most polls for this year's presidential elections, and like Prabowo will need to form strategic alliances with other parties to participate in this year's presidential contest.

The current Golkar chairman and presidential candidate is prominent businessman Aburizal Bakrie, another controversial figure since he and his brothers control the huge Bakrie Group founded by their father. Among the conglomerate's many subsidiaries is oil and gas company Lapindo whose drilling triggered a huge mudflow in 2006 that displaced thousands of residents in Sidoarjo, East Java, destroying surrounding homes and farmland. Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) held the company responsible for the man-made disaster that it deemed a human-rights violation.

In 2013 Bumi Resources, another Bakrie asset and the largest thermal coal exporter in Asia, was involved in an unsavory public row with the Rothschild banking dynasty over control of the firm. The Golkar chairman has been upbeat that neither of these scandals will damage his electability but there has been some disquiet within the party over his candidacy. [24]

Golkar is widely forecast to gain 12 to 15% of the vote in the parliamentary elections but the party has yet to secure a presidential election victory in the post-Suharto era, and Bakrie is currently the third favorite to win this year's contest. The Golkar chairman has been a political insider since the Suharto era, having served as President of the ASEAN business forum (1991-1995), President of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (1994-2004), Coordinating Minister for Economy (2004-2005) and Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare (2005-2009). Although Golkar retains its New Order logistical advantages over other parties in more remote parts of the archipelago, it could suffer from breakaway parties Gerindra and Hanura drawing away some of its votes, and the advancing age of many of its leaders who started their political careers under Suharto.

Meanwhile, Yudhoyono's PD has yet to select a presidential candidate. Without its patron on the ballot, support for the party is predicted to drop below 10% of the vote in 2014, underscoring how important a leader's personal charisma is for a party's election prospects. As a consequence, there have been discussions within the PD that if its share of the vote is smaller than Golkar's, then Yudhoyono will back Golkar if his brother-in-law, Pramono Edhie Wibowo, is selected as Golkar's vice presidential candidate.

Under the present system a presidential candidate typically nominates a running mate after the legislative elections in order to broker alliances to meet the electoral threshold to run for president. Moreover, this enables smaller parties to field candidates in the presidential elections. Most notably this was the case in 2004 when Yudhoyono selected Golkar chairman Jusuf Kalla as his running mate after Golkar had secured the most seats in parliament. This strategy gave Yudhoyono a much stronger power base in parliament since his own party had secured only 55 seats (from 7.45% of the vote), compared to Golkar's 128 seats (from 21.58% of the vote).

However, this prompted speculation as to whether it was Yudhoyono or Kalla who was actually the most powerful man in government. Yudhoyono's personal popularity was boosted by his announcement of several timely fuel price reductions following the collapse of international oil prices after August 2008. A net oil importer since late 2004, this policy resulted in a stunning parliamentary election success for Yudhoyono's PD, allowing its patron the luxury of disregarding party considerations when choosing a running mate. For the 2009 presidential campaign Yudhoyono selected a non-party figure instead, former central bank governor Boediono, although this subsequently weakened his standing vis-a-vis parliament.

Political Islam
Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, with around 88% of its 240 million population identifying as Muslims. Unlike in neighboring Malaysia, however, political Islam has not become a dominant electoral force. While Islamic-based parties secured a combined 39.33% of the vote in the 1955 elections, Suharto's authoritarian rule subsequently restricted the political mobilization of Islamist forces (see table below). Generally lacking the charismatic leaders of secular parties, Islamic-based parties have been unable to take advantage of the greater political opportunities since 1998, and continue to split the Islamic vote amongst them. In a bid to increase their electability, all of Indonesia's Islamic parties jettisoned their campaigns for Sharia law and adopted more pluralistic party platforms. This stands in marked contrast to their counterparts contesting the 1955 election, all of which advocated an Islamic State of Indonesia (Negara Islam Indonesia) with Islam at the center of a revised constitution.

This shift seems to reflect the triumph of the inclusive principles on which Indonesia was founded, principles to which Indonesia's secular nationalist parties successfully appeal. While Islam is the sole state religion in Malaysia, it is only one of six recognized monotheistic religions in the more inclusive Indonesian constitution. [25] Moreover, Islamization in Malaysia has largely been designed and implemented by political elites in Kuala Lumpur, partly as a strategy to marginalize ethno-religious minorities, whereas in Indonesia it has been driven by civil society groups with only sporadic support from the state. [26]

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