Wed. Apr 24th, 2019

Keys to elections in Indonesia, third largest democracy in the world

Keys to elections in Indonesia, third largest democracy in the world

More than 192 million Indonesians are called to vote on April 17 in the general elections in Indonesia, the third largest democracy in the world and one of the most consolidated in Southeast Asia.

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The elections, which for the first time in the history of the archipelago are presidential and legislative at the same time, face the current president, Joko Widodo, against the ex-general Prabowo Subianto, whom he already beat in a tight fashion in 2014.

The country with the largest Muslim population in the world - about 88 percent of its more than 265 million inhabitants - will choose in a single day from more than 245,000 candidates who aspire to 20,000 positions in one of the most complex democratic exercises in the world.

These are the keys to the elections:

The rise of political Islam

The growing influence of Islamic organizations and parties in Indonesian politics and society has become evident in recent years and plays a key role in the political proposal of the coalitions that support both presidential candidates.

Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, has shielded himself from attacks that questioned his Muslim devotion with the election as his vice president of septuagenarian cleric Maruf Amin, who chairs the Ulema Council of Indonesia.

For his part Prabowo has courted the most conservative Muslim vote and has allied with the 212 movement, known for promoting a series of mass protests between 2016 and 2017 against the then governor of Jakarta, the Christian Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.

The importance of the young vote

The 40 percent of the possible voters or close to 80 million are between 18 and 35 years old so the millennial vote is one of the main objectives in the electoral campaign for both contenders.

Their teams have used content adapted to young audiences on social networks, collaborations with influential or youtuberos or a more relaxed image of presidential candidates to attract younger voters.

Prabowo also has Sandiaga Uno as a candidate for vice president, a successful 49-year-old entrepreneur who resigned as deputy governor of Jakarta to stand for election.

Sandiaga has put his fortune at the service of the presidential campaign and has strengthened his image as an athlete and his speech on the reform of the economy to support the new generations.

Advantage of Joko Widodo in the polls.

The majority of voting polls give the Jokowi-Maruf tandem about 20 percentage points ahead of the one formed by Prabowo-Sandiaga, while about 10 percent of the voters remain undecided, so the current president has the cartel of favorite.

Jokowi opts for re-election with the support of parties representing about 60 percent of the seats in the lower house, as well as the largest Muslim organization in the Nahdlatul Ulama archipelago, of which Maruf was a long-time member.

However, two of the last independent surveys reduce the difference between the candidates to 12 percentage points (Kompas) and 5.5 (Voxpol Center Research and Consulting), which together with the undecided vote and the changes of opinion open the possibility to the surprise.

Accusations of electoral fraud

Prabowo's team earlier this month accused the Electoral Commission (KPU) of irregularities in the electoral lists and warned that its coalition will go to court or resort to "people's power" if they are not solved.

It would be the second time that the exmilitary denounces electoral fraud after in 2014 he went to the Constitutional Court, which rejected his complaint.

Threats that the young democracy faces:

The elections of April 17 constitute the fourth direct presidential elections and the fifth legislative ones in the last 20 years, which have passed peacefully and have gradually consolidated a system far from the previous authoritarianism of the dictator Suharto.

However, under the Jokowi mandate, which comes from an origin far from the political elites, cases of historical violations of human rights have not progressed, local laws inspired by Islamic law or sharia have proliferated and corruption continues to affect the most of the parties.


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