RSIS Commentary 070/2014, 15 April 2014, Indonesia’s Ambiguous Elections: Implications for the Region by Yang Razali Kassim: Indonesia's 4th parliamentary elections since the fall of strongman Suharto in 1998 have taken place without incident. Though the official results are expected only in May the contours of the new political landscape are emerging. The two-step exercise in its latest democratic transition – parliamentary followed by presidential elections - is likely to revolve around the top three parties, the Indonesian Party of Struggle (PDIP), Golkar and the Greater Indonesia Movement (Gerindra).... Over the next three months, they will display intense political manoeuvering as they engage in coalition-building and deal-making with nine other smaller parties to achieve two parallel objectives: victory in the coming July presidential election and forming a government supported by the majority of the incoming parliament.... In the post-Reformasi era, the Indonesian parliament has become increasingly independent of the Presidency, and at times even prone to chest-thumping, as if to make up for the three decades of being subservient to president Suharto. In the last parliament, such behaviour had come at the expense of Indonesia’s neighbours. For instance ASEAN’s failure to push through a proposed region-wide anti-haze law was partly due to this. The legislature simply dragged its feet and refused to ratify the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution Bill, which had been passed by all other ASEAN members.... This posture reflected a parliament that did not want to be seen as being dictated to by other countries. Will the new legislature seek to be even more independent-minded, and more assertive, such that the next President will have a difficult time entering into international agreements with other countries? Will the Haze Pollution Bill be finally ratified by Indonesia so that ASEAN can implement its haze-fighting strategy?.... The second known unknown is about the next president. For the three leading parties, their presidential candidates are clear at this point: the hugely popular Joko Widodo or “Jokowi” for PDIP, Aburizal Bakrie for Golkar and Prabowo Subianto for Gerindra. It is quite possible that a new presidential candidate will emerge following the current coalition bargaining. In the direct presidential election in July, Jokowi’s immense popularity with voters will stand him in good stead. However his path to the presidential election may have been made easier had he not faced some resistance from within the PDIP. Yet, notwithstanding his star appeal, there is, paradoxically, not much known about the presidential front runner.... Unlike Jokowi, Bakrie and Prabowo have issued clear manifestos of what they stand for.
Jokowi's poorer showing is put down in part to the unexpectedly good showing of Islamic parties in the parliamentary poll as they moved to the "centre of the political spectrum, and away from a doctrinaire Islamic position"; http://khoryuleng.blogspot.com/2014/04/indonesia-electoral-politics-and-palm.html refer to Greg Fealy's analysis.
Articles on Jokowi in Tempo: http://www.tempo.co/topik/tokoh/613/Jokowi--Joko-Widodo
; articles on Bakrie in Tempo: http://www.tempo.co/topik/tokoh/219/Aburizal-Bakrie
; a critical piece: http://www.theglobalmail.org/feature/an-environmental-problem-for-brisbane-roar/81/
; articles on Prabowo in Tempo: http://www.tempo.co/topik/tokoh/137/Prabowo-Subianto
; a critical piece: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/27/world/asia/indonesia-candidate-tied-to-human-rights-abuses-stirs-unease.html?_r=0
Indonesia poll outcome dims economic reform hopes: analysts
Channel News Asia;13 Apr 2014; http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/indonesia-poll-outcome/1069710.html
; Prospects for much-needed reforms in Southeast Asia's top economy are in doubt after a worse-than-expected election performance by the main opposition left Indonesia staring at an unwieldy coalition government, analysts warn.
Indonesian Voters Head to Polls; Voice of America April 08, 2014 ; http://www.voanews.com/content/reu-indonesia-gears-up-for-legislative-election/1888504.html
JAKARTA - Some 187 million voters in Indonesia head to the polls Wednesday in parliamentary elections that will have a big influence on the country's presidential poll in July; Current electoral laws stipulate that a party or coalition of parties must win 25 percent of the popular vote or 20 percent of seats in the national parliament to nominate a presidential candidate.... But polls show that only one party, the Democratic Party of Struggle or PDI-P, will definitely pass the threshold... Known locally as Jokowi, the Jakarta governor is wildly popular for his reputation for transparency and his hands-on approach to governance.... After his presidential bid was confirmed last month, the PDI-P’s popularity jumped from 27 to 37 percent in a widely watched opinion poll. The same poll showed the next closest party lagging 20 percent behind.... Professor Jemadu said it is too soon to call a Widodo presidential victory a certainty, but he said it is clear Indonesian voters want change.... A relative outsider with no connection to the country’s political elite, Joko Widodo is being touted as a new breed of Indonesian politician... Nonetheless, even as Widodo offers hope and change, the voting system is riddled with corruption... Since the collapse of Suharto’s 32-year authoritarian rule, this year marks the fourth time Indonesians will democratically elect their parliament... Results for the parliamentary election will be officially announced by May 9, but a quick count of the polls is expected within 24 hours.
Indonesia Vote Shapes Presidency Race as Jokowi Seeks Boost, Apr 8, 2014; http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-07/indonesia-vote-shapes-presidential-race-as-jokowi-urges-turnout.html
; Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo said nothing about his party’s plans for the country should it win a large slice of seats in a parliamentary election tomorrow. Instead he appealed to voters for a big turnout for the party, known as PDI-P, in a vote that will affect his bid to become the next president of Southeast Asia’s largest economy.... If Widodo’s popularity means PDI-P can get a significant portion of the vote he may not have to form the type of large, disparate coalition that has been the hallmark of previous governments.... By contrast, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democrat party won about 26 percent of seats in the 2009 vote and had to trade cabinet posts to form a coalition with five other parties.,,,If PDI-P fares well in the vote and seeks a small coalition, potential partners would be the National Awakening Party, or PKB, newcomer NasDem, or the National Mandate Party, or PAN, said Marcus Mietzner, associate professor at ANU.. In a nation where the major parties have similar policy views on issues from the economy to resource management to education, party campaigns have been focused more on pushing individual personalities than laying out details of platforms and how they would help ordinary citizens.... Bakrie of Golkar, Indonesia’s oldest political party, has promoted resource protectionism alongside a focus on building infrastructure, without giving specifics.....
Khor Reports comment: What impact on regulatory changes relating to the palm oil supply chain, including on foreign ownership limit? There is a target to get this done before the end of the current presidential term. The presidential election will be on 9 July 2014. Currently, all the ministries relevant to palm oil are held by different political parties. This is regarded as having stymied more coordinated policy actions. According to news reports, there are few policy differences between the parties; Jokowi has been silent on PDI-P's policy platform while Golkar has promoted resource protectionism. We'll find out more from friends in Jakarta once these results are in and the Presidential campaigns heat up.