Indonesia the 3rd largest democracy and number one, dense muslim populated country of the world, will hold it’s 5th legislative and presidential elections on February 14, 2024. Approximately 204 million Indonesian voters out of 270 million people across Indonesia will cost their vote to elect their President, Vice president and nearly 20,000 representatives to National, Provincial and District parliaments, from a pool of a 25,000 candidates. It means it will be the World’s largest single day election.
It is a matter of praise and great satisfaction that all elections held in Indonesia were considered free and fair since the President Suhartu was forced from power, in 1998. There are three presidential candidates with their running mates for the post of vice president ship.
The Presidential candidate of ruling Indonesian Democratic Party Of Struggle, is Mr. Ganger Pranowo, who is former Governor of Central Java, Mr.Ganjar has announced Chief Security Minister, Mahfud MD as his Vice Presidential candidate.
Second Presidential candidate is Anies Baswedan, he remained Governor of Jakarta, the Capital City of Indonesia, his running mate is Mr. Muhaimin Iskander the leader of Islamic national Awakening Party.
The Third presidential candidate is Prabowo Subianto, ex.son in- law of Suhartu, his running mate is thirty six years old, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, who is the elder son of president Jokowi, and mayor of Surakatra. The 55% of the total voters are aged between 17& 40 years.
The official election campaign period that started from Nov.28, will end on February 10, 2024. One segment of this election Compaign is the series of five televised debates between the presidential candidates. On December 12, 2023, in the first of five televised debates ahead of February 14, 2024, elections, all three candidates faced hot questions on human rights, law, governance, and corruption in the country. Mr. Anies Baswedan the Presidential candidate, and former Governor of Jakarta, in his opening statement said, “many regulations have been bent according to the interests of those in power” There is one millennial who could be vice president, but there are thousands of other millennials, who care about the nation that are marginalised,”When they criticize the government instesd they face violence, even tear gas”. The former governor further added, trust in the country’s democracy had dropped, with diminishing room for free speech and political opposition. The October Court ruling sparked fears about a democratic backslide and a return to the nepotism and patronage politics that characterized the decadelong rule of former president Suhartu, who was forced from power in 1998.
Ganjar Pranowo, who has focused his campaign at the grassroots, emphasized public services needed to be prioritized, and called for state losses from corruption to be used for the public good. His statement was, based on data from Indonesia Corruption Watch, state losses over the past 10 years have reached around 230 trillion rupiah, according to him this amount equals and sufficient to build 27,000 community health centers.
In a statement, Prabowo Subianto appeared to allude to possible judicial interference, telling his fellow candidate former central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo, we are no longer children, the public is Smart, the public knows Ganjar. We know the process, who did the intervention, but the point is we need to enforce the constitution.
Prabowo summed up his statement, “if we are at fault, if we have betrayed people, then it is the people who will punish us”.
Though Anies seemed more argumentative as well Prabowo also defended all blames leveled against him in a brief manner, but a very small number of voters give importance to such issues of freedom of expression, human rights violations, people mostly give importance to economic uplift programs. It is a bitter fact that wining an election in Asian countries, close relationship with people, colorful slogans for economic betterment and charming personality of the candidates play a pivotal rule, other issues of political nature relate to very small population of the country and can not effect the overall election results.
If in any television debate or political speech the basic needs of the common people are not discussed and no solution is suggested, then such debates or speeches are considered like a draw match.
The next proposed debate on December 22, will focus on defense, geopolitics and international relations.
Different surveys made, show that Mr. Prabowo is slightly ahead of other two candidates. But the voters’ trend cannot assessed till the last moment. All the three participants for the post of president , are seasoned politician and have vast experience in management, they know the pulse of voters, but to what extent does it matter who wins? it is still not clear.
Since 2004, Indonesian presidents managed to
maintain stable, inclusive coalition that includes a wide range of party and non party actors, what happens this time is still behind the curtain and depends upon the results of the coming election.