Aug 05, 2020 Last Updated 3:52 AM, Jul 28, 2020

Election year

Election year
Elections have become a routine affair - Eduardo Ramirez

A few parties experienced a drop in their vote (notably, outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Partai Demokrat). Some increased (most dramatically, Prabowo Subianto’s Gerindra, and the newcomer party, Nasdem, headed by media tycoon Surya Paloh). As expected, PDIP (Indonesia Democracy Party-Struggle) re-emerged as the country’s leading party, but it attained only about 19 per cent of the vote. Overall, however, there were no dramatic or truly unexpected changes. There was no fundamental reordering of the party system, and Indonesia’s national legislature is arguably more fragmented than ever.

Viewed differently, however, the legislative elections were revealing. In the first place, they cast light on the coming presidential election, an election that will indisputably present Indonesians with an important choice. For many people, the key question of the April election was what it would tell us about the prospects of the two leading presidential candidates: the PDIP’s Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, and the former general Prabowo Subianto. Second, the elections show us much about how political power is organised and contested in a country where democracy has now become routine. Is politics in Indonesia really just about money and influence-peddling, as many people claim, or is there still a place for programs, policy and even idealism?

Two of our articles in this special edition of Inside Indonesia address the first of these topics: the presidency. Marcus Mietzner, a long-time observer of elite politics in Indonesia, gives a forensic account of Jokowi’s rise to the position of favourite in the presidential contest, and the strong challenge that is now being made by Prabowo Subianto. For many observers, the surprising result about the April election was that the ‘Jokowi effect’ did not provide as strong a boost for the PDIP as many people expected. Suddenly, the prospect of a Prabowo presidency seems more realistic than it did even a few months ago. In this context, Gerry van Klinken explores an under-examined part of Prabowo Subianto’s military past: his time in East Timor over 30 years ago. Prabowo is widely known for having had a hand in the abduction and disappearance of student and youth activists in 1997-98; van Klinken argues he has even more serious charges to respond to, dating back to those East Timor years.

Other articles explore the mechanics of electoral competition in the April poll and what they can tell us about the deeper social and political forces at work in Indonesian democracy. In a piece on ‘money politics’, I survey the ways in which the distribution of money, goods, projects and favours is becoming more and more central to election campaigning throughout the country. Two other pieces present a somewhat different view. Tom Power looks closely at the campaign strategies of two candidates, showing that creative methods and emotional appeals can still help candidates connect with voters and win their support. Kirsty Hoban analyses a dramatic intervention by an organised social movement into the electoral arena: efforts by FSPMI, a militant union representing manufacturing industry workers, to get its leaders elected in Bekasi, an industrial zone to the east of Jakarta. Finally, Bobby Anderson, a regular Inside Indonesia contributor on Papua, presents a photo essay on election campaigning in Papua’s highlands.

Edward Aspinall (edward.aspinall@anu.edu.au) is a coordinating editor of Inside Indonesia.

 

Inside Indonesia 116: Apr-Jun 2014

Latest Articles

A generation of resistance

Jun 26, 2020 - IVO MATEUS GONCALVES

Students demonstrate at Santa Cruz cemetery, 12 November 1991 / Author

East Timor’s student movement and the struggle against oppression

Essay: Celebrating Imlek, Catholic style

Jun 22, 2020 - JOSH STENBERG

/ Josh Stenberg

Practices such as Imlek masses are a welcome example of tolerance and plurality

West Papua and Black Lives Matter

Jun 17, 2020 - SOPHIE CHAO

We are not monkeys / Twitter

A movement seeking justice, healing, and freedom for Black people has become a powerful rallying call for Indigenous West Papuans

Artists seek assistance

Jun 14, 2020 - RAHMADI FAJAR HIMAWAN

Several pesinden accompanying a wayang performance / Rahmadi Fajar Himawan

Javanese traditional musicians are among the many artists and performers struggling to survive, or qualify for government payments under COVID restrictions

A house of cards?

Jun 02, 2020 - YULIDA PANGASTUTI

ANTARA FOTO/Saiful Bahri/wsj

The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the exploitation of non-formal early childhood educators 

Subscribe to Inside Indonesia

Receive Inside Indonesia's latest articles and quarterly editions in your inbox.

 


Lontar Modern Indonesia

Lontar-Logo-Ok

 

A selection of stories from the Indonesian classics and modern writers, periodically published free for Inside Indonesia readers, courtesy of Lontar