Management consultants at McKinsey say the Indonesian middle class consists of 45m people, while their rivals at Boston Consulting Group cite a figure of 74m. The Asian Development Bank puts it at an eye-popping 146m, or 59 per cent of the population.

Either way, investors are whetting their appetites at the prospect of selling their goods and services into this undoubtedly large and fast-growing market of consumers. Continue reading »

While the “quick count” results from Wednesday’s five-yearly legislative election are only preliminary, it seems clear that the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) has failed to fully capitalise on the popularity of its presidential candidate, Joko Widodo.

Having named Widodo, the highly regarded Jakarta governor, as its presidential candidate in March, PDI-P was targeting at least 27 per cent of the vote for the 560-member House of Representatives (DPR). But initial results showed that it secured 19 per cent, in spite of coming first.

 Continue reading »

Ben Bland, Indonesia correspondent, explains one of the world’s most complicated elections as the country prepares to elect both chambers of its legislature and a new president.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia is stepping down this year after reaching a two-term limit. With his country facing a host of serious challenges from rising inequality to slowing economic growth, investors are anxious to know who will replace him and what the make-up of the new House of Representatives will be.

But making sense of one of the world’s most complicated elections is no easy task. So here is your bookmark-and-keep guide to understanding how Indonesia’s legislative and presidential elections work – and why they matter. Continue reading »

Indonesia is facing a colossal task to organise what is perhaps the world’s most complicated single-day election, as the FT reports on Wednesday.

Here are six major quirks of the idiosyncratic Indonesian electoral system. Continue reading »

“Hot celebs assault on parliament,” reads the headline of a local tabloid in a photograph that Destiya Purna Panca has uploaded to Instagram.

The 25-year-old swimsuit model – better known as Destiara Talita – was one of the two celebrities pictured on the front page. The other was 28-year-old Camellia Panduwinata Lubis – or Camel Petir – a popular singer of Indonesia’s hip-shaking dangdut music.

Both are candidates in the April 9 elections for the small Indonesian Justice and Unity Party and high-profile examples of the caleg cantik or “beautiful legislative candidate” trend. Continue reading »

With Indonesia’s parliament and political parties having earned a popular reputation for corruption, waste and venality, many voters are uninspired by April 9’s legislative elections.

But amid the party hacks, elite offspring and celebrities standing for election, there is a crop of first-time parliamentary candidates who are promising to be clean, effective and responsive.

Young, professional and social media-savvy, they are targeting some of the 50m plus voters under 30 years of age (out of an electorate of 186m), with 21.8m of them first time voters. To give an insight into the strengths, weakness and quirks of the Indonesian electoral system, beyondbrics will be tracking the progress of one such candidate, Taufik Basari. Continue reading »

By helicopter, by jeep and on horseback, former special forces general Prabowo Subianto came storming into a rally at Jakarta’s main stadium on Sunday in a bid to revitalise his ailing campaign for Indonesia’s presidency. Continue reading »

While Joko Widodo, the wildly popular governor of Jakarta, just about managed to restrain his euphoria when he was finally named as his party’s presidential candidate on Friday, investors were not so coy.

The Jakarta stock exchange jumped by three percent on Friday, its biggest one-day gain for six months, to reach a nine-month high, while the once-troubled rupiah has strengthened by 1.3 per cent against the US dollar since then. Continue reading »

When employees of Indonesian zinc oxide producer Indo Lysaght went to pick up their export permits from the trade ministry last month they were shocked to be told by officials: “computer says no”.

Without the company’s prior knowledge, zinc oxide had been added to the list of mineral ores that were banned from being exported as of January 12 as part of a controversial plan to force mining companies to build smelters and refineries. Continue reading »

As emerging markets remain rattled by investor jitters, Raghuram Rajan, India’s central bank governor, has resurrected a gripe of old by attacking the US for its lack of concern about the global impact of its withdrawal of extraordinary monetary stimulus.

Mr Rajan, a former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund, told Bloomberg India TV that “international monetary co-operation has broken down.”

“Industrial countries have to play a part in restoring that [co-operation], and they can’t at this point wash their hands off and say, we’ll do what we need to and you do the adjustment.” Continue reading »

Indonesia’s powerful corruption commission has a new target. Having gone for members of the president’s inner circle, the country’s highest judge and dozens of parliamentarians, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) now has the lucrative mining industry in its sights.

Adnan Pandu Praja, a deputy chairman of the KPK, told the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club on Wednesday that the agency was launching a crackdown on corrupt mining companies and some of the government officials, military officers and police who stand behind them. Continue reading »

A sliding rupiah, slowing economic growth and fast-rising costs are not exactly good news for Indonesian companies selling to the large consumer market, many of which have US dollar debts and US dollar costs.

But the squeeze could be a boon for Japanese, Korean and Western companies who have been looking to buy into Indonesia’s consumer goods sector – and the bankers who advise them. Continue reading »

An Indonesian smelter. More to come?

Many mining companies in Indonesia have warned that a ban on the export of some unprocessed mineral ores, brought into force this month, will deter foreign investment in the sector.

But Mahendra Siregar, the ambitious technocrat who heads Indonesia’s investment co-ordinating board (BKPM), believes that investment will in fact be boosted by the new rule as three metal smelters come on stream this year and 25 more are built over the next three years. Continue reading »

While speculation about the US Federal Reserve’s plans to curb its quantitative easing programme drags on, Indonesia’s currency continues to “taper” of its own volition.

On Thursday, the dollar rose to over 12,000 rupiah for the first time since 2009. Confidence in Indonesia’s currency is weak because of the country’s large current account deficit and slowing economic growth, which is at a four-year lowContinue reading »