1707888268 Indonesia elects president after Joko Widodo39s decade in power International

Indonesia elects president after Joko Widodo's decade in power International

Indonesia elects president after Joko Widodo39s decade in power International

Indonesia, the world's third-largest democracy, will elect a new president and vice president as well as representatives from parliament and local government this Wednesday. Nearly 205 million people will go to the polls on the biggest election day of this super-election year (India, the world's most populous country, votes between April and May). The first economy in Southeast Asia is choosing between three continuity proposals after a decade of leadership by Joko Widodo (nicknamed Jokowi), who cannot stand for re-election after exhausting the maximum two terms in office. According to polls, the favorite to succeed him is the current Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto.

Presidential elections in the archipelago are traditionally more about personalities than political promises. In this case, young voters will be crucial, as 52% of voters are under 40 years old (the country has 270 million inhabitants). . For this reason, the race for Merdeka Palace has developed primarily on social networks, where the three presidential candidates have tried to win the favor of voters by showing the most affable face with live broadcasts and viral dances, rather than on Betting rallies and other more traditional campaign strategies.

Serious allegations of human rights violations are planned against former general Prabowo, 72, who lost to Widodo in the 2014 and 2019 elections. Although no charges were ever brought against him, his critics point out that Prabowo was involved in the kidnapping and torture of around twenty pro-democracy protesters in the late 1990s, more than a dozen of whom remain missing. He is also credited with ordering some of the atrocities committed in East Timor and Papua during the Indonesian occupation, which cost him his discharge from the army and exile in Jordan in 1998. The United States even banned him from entering the country. , but he overrode the veto in 2020 after taking over the defense portfolio.

Known for his passionate nationalism and strong temperament, Prabowo has shown his most affable and charismatic side on social networks, moving away from the flirtation with more radical Islamic factions that cost him victory in 2019. His nine million followers share pictures of his personal life and photos of his cats on Instagram every day, and many young people have grown fond of his clumsy moves in his viral TikTok dances, which have captured the attention of a key audience. According to the Digital 2023 report by British company We Are Social, almost 80% of Indonesia's population has access to the internet and people between the ages of 16 and 64 spend more than three hours a day on social networks. According to the Center for International and Strategic Studies (CSIS), social networks are the first source of information for 60% of Indonesian voters.

Prabowo is running with Gibran Rakabuming Raka, President Widodo's first-born son, as his vice-presidential candidate. His candidacy was not without controversy as the 36-year-old Gibran was excluded because he did not meet the requirement of being at least 40 years old to run for the two highest positions in government. However, the Constitutional Court, chaired by Widodo's brother-in-law, ruled in October that younger candidates could run if they had previously held public office. This is the case of Gibran, the current mayor of Surakarta.

Erosion of democratic values

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These political movements have sparked criticism and concern about a possible erosion of democratic values ​​in Indonesia, a country that freed itself from the yoke of an authoritarian regime only 25 years ago. In 2014, Widodo became Indonesia's first non-elite leader thanks to his charisma and moderate spirit. Analysts at the American think tank Carnegie Endowment for International Peace believe it is possible that the incumbent president will try to maintain his influence even after he leaves office.

The current Defense Minister's opponents are Anies Baswedan (54) and Ganjar Pranowo (55). The first is an academic and former governor of Jakarta, who represents the most distant option from the current president. In 2017, he was accused of courting radical Islamic groups that fueled identity politics in the country with the world's largest Muslim population. He is now running alongside Muhaimin Iskandar, the leader of Indonesia's main Islamic party.

For his part, Ganjar should be the favorite candidate to succeed Widodo, with whom he shares a party. But the former Central Java governor's political influence collapsed after the president began a quiet campaign in favor of Prabowo. Without this support, this politician of humble origins has tried to display a people's attitude and promised measures for the most disadvantaged sectors.

Winning elections requires a simple majority and at least 20% of the vote in more than half of the country's provinces, spread across 17,000 islands. If there is no clear winner, a second round of voting would take place in June between the two candidates with the most votes. Polls by Indicator Politics and Lembaga Survei Indonesia last week predicted a victory for Prabowo with more than 51% support.

Unemployment and improving the quality of life are among the main concerns of younger generation voters, who make up more than half of the electorate. Although the official unemployment rate is 5.32%, experts point out that this figure does not reflect reality, as many workers officially only work a few hours per week and about 60% work in the informal sector. In addition, youth unemployment has increased in recent years: in 2023, young people aged 15 to 24 accounted for 55% of the 7.86 million unemployed, an increase of 10% compared to 2020.

During Widodo's decades-long leadership, the country enjoyed stable economic growth and low inflation, as well as significant investment in industries linked to its rich natural resources. For example, billions of dollars were invested in nickel smelting, attracting battery and electric vehicle manufacturers such as China's CATL and South Korea's LG and Hyundai. However, according to some economists, investment in recent years has been in machinery and technology rather than job creation. The next government, which governs until 2029, will be tasked with rising to this challenge and seeking answers to the increasing use of automation and artificial intelligence, an issue that none of the candidates addressed in detail during the election campaign.

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