All eyes are on the official vote counting process in Indonesia after Joko Widodo, the reformist Jakarta governor, and Prabowo Subianto, a self-styled military strongman, both claimed victory in Wednesday’s milestone presidential election.
Most “quick counts” – based on samples of actual votes cast – predicted a victory for Widodo by a margin of 4 to 5 percentage points. But Subianto has refused to concede, with his brother insisting that their own counts put him in the lead by a margin of nearly 4 percentage points.
Tough-talking former general Prabowo Subianto has put nationalist rhetoric at the heart of his powerful presidential campaign.
But one of his communication advisers is Rob Allyn, an American political consultant has who worked for George W. Bush and Mexico’s Vicente Fox among many others.
Supporters of Subianto’s rival Joko Widodo, the Jakarta governor, have claimed that Allyn is linked to a widely circulated smear campaign that has falsely accused him of being a Communist, ethnically Chinese and not a Muslim.
For a frontrunner whose campaign has been floundering, the first of Indonesia’s televised presidential debates did not start well on Monday night.
Small-town mayor turned political superstar Joko Widodo had left a large piece of notepaper poking prominently out of his suit as the candidates sang the national anthem.
To supporters of his rival, former general Prabowo Subianto, the wardrobe malfunction underlined their view that Widodo, now the governor of Jakarta, is an uncertain and inexperienced leader, not ready for the highest office.
The past year has not been easy for India and Indonesia. Faced with slowing growth, festering fiscal deficits, ballooning current account gaps and political uncertainties, the two had the common misfortune of being counted into the Fragile Five group of challenged economies.
In India’s case, though, it appears that investors can now see light at the end of the tunnel. Not only has the business-friendly Narendra Modi won the election; he has also clinched a rare outright majority for his BJP party, making it easier to push through tough reforms.
With Indonesia’s presidential election taking place a month from now, there are hopes that the country can find a Modi-like savior in Joko Widodo, known as Jokowi, the frontrunner in the race.
Although he officially stepped down from the family business when he entered the government in 2004, Indonesian tycoon Aburizal Bakrie still has the power to move markets.
His announcement late on Tuesday that he was withdrawing from Indonesia’s presidential race to support front-runner Joko Widodo pushed the Jakarta stock exchange up by 1.4 per cent on Wednesday and sent the rupiah 0.8 per cent higher against the US dollar in its biggest one-day move for two months.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
Indonesia’s political parties are not bottom-up institutions. They are more like a conical lamp over a billiard table: intense and bright at the narrow top, faint and dim towards the bottom. Ever since the Communist Party was butchered in the mid-1960s, no Indonesian party has been interested in arousing passions among the citizenry or engaging them in politics.
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.
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.