Indonesia’s young democracy faces its biggest challenge since emerging from decades of autocratic rule 16 years ago after both candidates claimed victory in last week’s presidential election. It will be up to two key institutions, both with bruised reputations, to decide which of the two men who contested the July 9 poll has the right to move into the white-pillared presidential palace in central Jakarta and lead the world’s third biggest democracy for the next five years. The first will be the Elections Commission, hit by graft charges in the past, and which is now in the process of checking the vote count before it announces the final result by July 22.
The camps of the rival candidates—Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and former general Prabowo Subianto—have made none-too-subtle suggestions that the other might cheat in the time it takes to declare the official result.
Despite the tensions, there has been no violence, although that is a worry. Hundreds of people were killed in violence that swept the vast archipelago when ironman ruler Suharto was ousted in 1998 after over three decades in office and a shaky but functioning democracy put in his place.
No presidential election, and this is only the third through direct voting, has been so close, or so bitter, since Indonesia declared independence in 1945. But officials and poll observers say it is not easy to cheat, given the institutional safeguards that have been built in.
Full Article: In Contested Election, Indonesia’s Democracy on the Line.