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Just fill our the Ask a Librarianform and a librarian will contact you. Should not go into kitchen without asking cook. Despite improvements, Indonesia was still ranked out of countries by Transparency International in its latest annual survey on corruption perceptions. Foreign investors have also signalled their continuing frustration with a graft-ridden legal system, opaque government policies and the country's creaking infrastructure. Consolidating the gains made under Yudhoyono, a Jokowi victory could indicate a shift away from Suharto-era vested interests to a less-patrimonial style of politics and a new generation of leader.

Regardless of outcome, Indonesia's elections are among the most significant of given that it is the world's third largest electoral democracy, an ongoing test case for the transition from authoritarian rule and a prominent model for democratic survival in multi-ethnic states. The significance of these factors is compounded by Indonesian aspirations to play a leadership role both among developing countries and in Southeast Asia, as the region's biggest country and economy.

Given the continuing instability in Thailand, the recent unrest in Cambodia and Myanmar's delicate democratic transition, democratic consolidation or reversal in Indonesia would carry symbolic weight at a regional level. This article opens with a brief history of post-reformasi elections in Indonesia, followed by an overview of the main parties and candidates with a short analysis of political Islam.

Thereafter it will consider the influence of the media and the military upon Indonesia's continuing democratic transition. Electoral reform in Indonesia marks the country's biggest departure from the Suharto era. Whilst parliamentary and presidential elections did take place under Suharto's so-called New Order they were heavily manipulated by the regime to ensure success for the president's own electoral vehicle Golongan Karya , usually shortened to Golkar. Electoral rules in place between and permitted only two opposition parties to contest parliamentary elections, thus forcing the merger of the main opposition parties.

Criticism of government policy by the PPP and the PDI was not allowed and government approval was required for all campaign slogans.

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Every candidate from every party was screened by the regime and fully half of all members of the national parliament were directly appointed by Suharto. Only Golkar was allowed to canvass support below the district level through local government officials and regional military commanders, and all government employees were required to support Golkar.

Golkar's record in the post-Suharto reformasi era has been mixed. Whilst it has repeatedly attempted to reduce the pace and depth of reform it has also made some important contributions to Indonesia's democratic transition since This apparent paradox has prompted one observer to note, "Just like Indonesian politics in general, Golkar too is an ambiguous amalgam of progressive reformism and conservative status quo attitudes.

Presidential elections were also held every five years during the New Order but these merely rubber stamped Suharto's re-selection. This remained the case during the March presidential election which unanimously selected him for another five year term which was due to end in , by which time he was almost 82 years old. However, two months later Suharto was forced to resign amidst a deep economic crisis, violent mass protests and a loss of elite support. Vice president B. Habibie replaced his mentor and, in order to boost his own legitimacy, hurriedly announced parliamentary elections for the following year.

By demonstrating his own reformist credentials he hoped to secure a full term as president in his own right. With the New Order restrictions lifted some 48 political parties contested the parliamentary elections. However, Habibie withdrew his candidacy after his accountability report was rejected by the new parliament and his party Golkar subsequently threw its support behind Abdurrahman Wahid. Even though Wahid's National Awakening Party Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa , PKB only placed third in the legislative elections, with less than 13 percent of the vote, he was also leader of the Nahdlatul Ulama NU , a traditionalist Muslim body that is Indonesia's largest civil society organisation.

Wahid also proved adept at building the necessary alliances to become president, relegating Megawati Sukarnoputri, whose PDI-P Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan , Indonesian Democratic Party - Struggle had actually gained the most seats in the elections, to the position of vice president.

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Wahid made a bright start as president in , bringing a much more pluralistic approach to the office. These attempts at peacebuilding, alongside efforts to reform the military, provoked resistance from the political elite and Wahid became mired in a corruption scandal. This provided the pretext for the MPR to impeach him on charges of graft and incompetence in July , and Megawati assumed the presidency. Having convincingly won the parliamentary elections, Megawati's elevation represented a triumph for democracy.

Her party was widely perceived as the main opposition in the late New Order period, and Megawati herself is the daughter of Sukarno, Indonesia's founding president who was ousted by Suharto in Despite bringing a measure of political stability to Indonesia, however, her conservative administration came to be seen as listless and lacklustre. In particular, Megawati showed little appetite for military reform, was perceived as soft on regional terrorism and appeared unwilling to tackle corruption.

Nevertheless, important constitutional reforms were instituted during her stewardship, including the establishment of the Corruption Eradication Commission Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi , KPK and the Constitutional Court, and the introduction of direct local elections. These institutions would be developed further during her successor's presidency.

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In contrast to his predecessors Habibie, Wahid and Megawati, Yudhoyono vowed to lead the anti-corruption drive personally, and reaped the rewards at the ballot box. The next round of national elections took place in , contested by 24 political parties, and constitutional reform meant that the parliament would now be fully elected, with no reserved seats for the military.

The president was now also directly elected in separate polls after the new parliament had been formed. The elections of both and were conducted relatively cleanly, leading democracy advocacy group Freedom House to categorise Indonesia as a 'free' country in after adjusting its status to 'partly free' following Suharto's fall. Meanwhile, Freedom House, which publishes annual reports that analyse the extent of civil liberties and political rights throughout the world, downgraded the status of Thailand and Philippines from 'free' to 'partly free' in and respectively, underscoring Indonesia's progress in a regional context.

Further highlighting how free and fair Indonesian national elections have become is the fact that in the first direct presidential elections of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was able to defeat incumbent Megawati. She enjoyed the support of the largest party in parliament but Yudhoyono was able to convert his personal popularity with voters into victory. Indeed, ruling governments lost both the and presidential elections, and Yudhoyono's triumph in marked the first time since that a sitting president has been re-elected to the highest office. Yudhoyono initially gained a reputation as a progressive military reformer in the late Suharto period, and had enhanced his standing with cabinet posts under Wahid and Megawati.

This clearly demonstrates that, unlike regional neighbours Singapore, Malaysia and Cambodia, Indonesia has an electoral system that has not been unduly manipulated to favour the ruling party. Some 38 national parties contested the legislative election but new rules have trimmed their number to 12 for this year's April elections. President Yudhoyono and his wife Kristiani vote during the parliamentary elections. Another distinguishing feature of party politics in Indonesia which has likely contributed to this stabilisation has been the fact that political parties do not usually engage in robust ideological debates with one another.

Whilst the lack of substantive issue-oriented political debate raises doubts about the quality of Indonesia's democratic transition, it has enabled the country to avoid the political polarisation that has paralysed party politics in Thailand and elsewhere. Instead Indonesian politics have become increasingly personalistic since the introduction of direct presidential elections in , and the implementation of similarly direct elections for provincial governors, mayors and district heads in Yudhoyono continued this trend in when naming his first United Indonesia Cabinet in which only the PDI-P of the established political parties was not represented.

Thus, in the legislative elections these other parties were unable to effectively challenge Yudhoyono's PD on policy differences. The president repeated this strategy for his second United Indonesia Cabinet, formed at the beginning of his second term, in which again the PDI-P was the only major party not represented.

Electoral rules first applied in specify that a political party, or a coalition of parties, must secure a minimum of 25 percent of the vote or 20 percent of the seats in the April legislative elections to select a candidate to contest the July presidential elections. To win the presidency therefore, a candidate must be skilled at building alliances with other parties.


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Whilst the Constitutional Court recently ruled that this threshold is unconstitutional, electoral changes will not come into force until the polls. The Court also decided that the present requirement for voters to first elect parliament followed by a president is also unconstitutional; meaning that from simultaneous polls will be held. It is anticipated that this ruling may increase the number of candidates seeking to attain the highest office since until now presidential hopefuls have needed to secure the backing of large political parties.

In the three elections since the largest political parties have been Golkar, Suharto's former election vehicle, and the PDI-P, widely seen as the main opposition in the late Suharto period.

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The PDI-P won However, both parties have been in decline, with Golkar losing the strength it derived from the New Order's military and bureaucratic apparatus and the PDI-P failing to develop its reputation as the standard bearer of populist, secular nationalism.

Since its founding in a new electoral force in Indonesian politics has emerged, that of Yudhoyono's election vehicle PD. In addition to Golkar and the PDI-P, support for other established political parties has also declined, especially the PKB of former president Wahid and the venerable PPP third and fourth respectively in the elections. Following the template successfully implemented by Yudhoyono's PD, two other election vehicles for Suharto-era generals have also emerged since These new parties have contributed to an increasing fragmentation in the party system and their longevity is questionable without their charismatic leaders.

The favourite to win the presidential election is Jokowi, the current Governor of Jakarta who has yet to be officially nominated as a candidate. An opinion poll conducted in mid-January by Kompas, Indonesia's largest daily newspaper, found that he would win It is widely assumed that Jokowi will be selected by Megawati's PDI-P, whom he represented in the Jakarta gubernatorial elections, and its failure to officially nominate him has angered some PDI-P members.

There has been speculation that the party's matriarch would like one last run at the presidency for herself, in which case Jokowi could be her running mate.


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  • Megawati herself has placed a distant fifth in most presidential surveys, having lost the previous two presidential elections to Yudhoyono. Jokowi has frequently appeared in public with Megawati, whether to either promote his candidacy or reflect some of the governor's personal popularity onto his party's leader. Regardless, Megawati has announced that the party will only nominate its presidential candidate after the April parliamentary elections, although this could be a strategic mistake. If Jokowi is confirmed as its presidential candidate before the April elections, most polls suggest the PDI-P would likely make significant gains in parliament, and overall voter turnout would also increase.

    As Yudhoyono discovered, coalition governments reduce a president's room for manoeuvre, a situation that could be replicated under a Jokowi-led coalition. However, Megawati could be anxious about losing her family's control of the party to Jokowi if she backs him for this year's presidential elections.