Sunday, July 13, 2014

Indonesia's presidential election: still some worries ahead

By Ross B. Taylor

Even if Jokowi is confirmed as Indonesia's new president in two weeks time, he will have a tough job ahead.
The current state of the presidential fast-count shows only one thing is certain: that relations with Australia ARE going to be different whatever happens. We are about to find out how good SBY was for Australia, and how we squandered some really important opportunities through our total focus on 'Bali and boats'.
Whilst it appears that Jokowi will win by 3-5%, clearly Prabowo doesn't see it that way and I worry that he will not concede graciously. Make no mistake Prabowo was, and still is, a very hard and 'strong' man. He has advocated  'consultation and consensus should he be elected president, but as Professor Tim Lindsey says, "that is Indonesia-speak for 'patrimonialism and cronyism". He is right!
Even if Jokowi is confirmed as Indonesia's new president in two weeks time, he will have a tough job ahead. Two scenarios come to mind:
  • Probowo and his supporters don't accept the result and violence breaks out, plus the result gets bogged down in court.
  • Prabowo does accept the result but then uses his 'friends' to make life for Jokowi impossible in the national parliament. And with almost half the population having voted against Jokowi, and the other half with very high expectations of this man from Central Java, it is going to be a big challenge indeed. Maybe too big, with Prabowo and his supporters and heavy-weight backers sitting in the background just waiting, in the knowledge that almost half the population are behind them.
Re the foreign minister's job, whilst I believe that the re-appointment of Pak Marty Natalegawa would be a good thing for Indonesia and the region, we are not so sure he will get the job. Certainly, if Prabowo wins there is little chance, as Prabowo has too many promises to keep. If Jokowi wins then maybe; although I would question if Jokowi/Mega would want any 'continuity' with the old SBY regime?
The election process has been a great win for democracy...for now.
It is going to be a tense and difficult few months ahead.
Ross B. Taylor AM is the President of the Indonesia Institute.

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