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Presidential Elections in Indonesia – July 9th
By admin June 5, 2014

The race is heating up between Indonesian presidential frontrunners Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto with a month left before 185 million voters go to the polls. This is the third time Indonesians will directly chose their president since former autocrat Suharto stepped down in 1998, but it’s the first time they will choose between only two candidates.

Indonesian presidential candidate Joko Widodo Photo: REUTERS/Beawiharta

Indonesian presidential candidate Joko Widodo Photo: REUTERS/Beawiharta

Joko Widodo, the former governor of Jakarta, has been the favorite for months, leading in surveys over the former general Prabowo Subianto. Joko Widodo, also known as Jokowi, has promised to end expensive fuel subsidies and instead increase spending on the poor and infrastructure. Meanwhile, Prabowo Subianto has narrowed the gap, by recently gaining the backing of the country’s second biggest party, as well as the party of former President Suharto, the Golkar party. Subianto is seen as presenting a more nationalistic vision for the Indonesian economy. Indonesia’s stock market and the rupiah fell on news that parties backing Subianto won a slightly bigger share of votes in the parliamentary poll than pro-Jokowi parties back in April.

But party backing is not a direct predictor of elections, as “Indonesian politics are very personality driven. The electoral strength (of a party) does not necessarily translate into support for a candidate,” said Tobias Basuki, political analyst at think tank Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto Photo: AP

Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto Photo: AP

Media barons have stepped into the race and picked their favorites. Aburizal Bakrie and Hary Tanoesoedibjo, who gave up their own presidential and vice-presidential ambitions to back the former general, have a free-to-air audience share of 40 percent compared with just 2 percent for Jokowi-supporter Surya Paloh. Subianto recently had a boost in visibility with his appearance on Indonesian Idol on Mr. Tanoesoedibjo’s channel and will sure to have a large platform for his campaign. Although social media is becoming an important political battleground, television is still crucial. Less than a quarter of Indonesians have smartphones, while more than 90 percent have access to a television. With elections on July 9th, the campaigning for the next month will sure to be fierce.

 

For more information:

–       http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21602278-front-runner-scrambles-partners-runners-and-riders

–       http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/048a7812-ebca-11e3-8cef-00144feabdc0.html#axzz33mH4nHkP

–       http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304908304579561671426912880

–       http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/05/19/uk-indonesia-election-jokowi-idUKKBN0DZ0UL20140519

–       http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-04/indonesian-election-campaign/5498996

 


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