Indonesia’s legislative elections offer a window into the deep forces shaping the country, and a glimpse of its political future
Indonesia is part way through its election year, having held its legislative elections on 9 April, and with the country now gearing up for the first round of the presidential polls in July. With more than 235,000 candidates running for seats in national, provincial and district legislatures around the country, the April poll was a massive logistical affair. It was also the culmination of years of effort, expense and stress for a huge number of people. Yet in some ways, the actual results of the election were an anti-climax.
Jokowi: Rise of a polite populist
Jokowi’s path to the presidency might not be as smooth as it once seemed, but he is still the front runner
Ever since his appearance on the national political stage in 2012, Joko Widodo (popularly referred to as Jokowi) has had an almost hypnotic impact on Indonesia’s elite and public at large. The media have followed his every word and move, and political actors were forced to redefine their strategies in anticipation of Jokowi’s expected run for the presidency. Hence, it was no surprise that Jokowi was also at the centre of Indonesia’s legislative election campaign in March and April 2014, and that discussion of the success or failure of the ‘Jokowi effect’ dominated post-election analyses.
Prabowo and human rights
Jakarta 1998 was bad, but Prabowo likely had more blood on his hands in East Timor
Gerry van Klinken
As everybody knows, one of the strongest candidates for the presidency has an image problem, related to his army days. But abducting a couple of dozen student activists in 1998 is not Prabowo’s worst human rights problem, though it’s what he’s best known for. Fifteen years earlier he was in the middle of a counter-insurgency operation in East Timor that claimed many hundreds of lives.
The distribution of money, goods and other benefits is an integral part of electioneering in Indonesia
At a meeting between a sitting member of the provincial parliament of Yogyakarta, and about 30 youths and men in a village on the outskirts of the city, the parliamentarian has just wrapped up a 20 minute appeal for support. He is from PDIP (Indonesia Democracy Party –Struggle) and all the men are party supporters, so it should have been an easy pitch trying to convince them to back him again. But then one youth pipes up, telling the candidate that people from other parties have been coming into the village, long a PDI-P base, and offering ‘envelopes’ (ie. money) in exchange for votes.
Workers – go politics!
The workers of Bekasi get a political education as union activists make history in a coordinated campaign
It is April 8, the day before the election. The streets have been cleared of all the candidate posters that have clung to every tree trunk over the last few months. The banners that have hung down from every bridge are gone. So too are the red, yellow, green, and blue flags that have been flying from the top of almost every building and jostling for space along every major road. It’s the official ‘cooling down’ period and all overt campaigning is required to cease.
Election campaigning in highland Papua breaks all the stereotypes
Tolikara is a remote and new district in the Papuan Highlands. The 9 April 9 2014 legislative elections in Bokondini, a small town in Tolikara, took a bizarre turn as two of Indonesia’s largest Islamic parties – PPP (Unity Development Party) and PKS (Prosperous Justice Party) – both campaigned for the Christian vote. And while the national, and provincial, PPP candidates are usually Muslim, the local candidates for Tolikara seats on these party tickets were Christians – aspiring politicians hoping to break into local legislatures dominated by bigger parties like Golkar and Demokrat.
Inside Indonesia 116: Apr-Jun 2014