Fears about vote buying and poll manipulation are widespread as Indonesia prepares to hold one of the world’s most complicated elections at a crucial juncture for the third-biggest democracy after India and the US. But Ronny Irawan, a local election official, is more concerned about the weather forecast. More than 40 per cent of the 1,130 polling stations in his district of Ketapang, on the island of Kalimantan, are in remote areas that can only be reached by jungle rivers and crumbling roads. “The weather will determine the smoothness of the logistics process because heavy rain might prevent our boats from navigating the rivers but low tide could strand our craft if it is too dry,” he says. Mr Irawan’s travails are a snapshot of the immense logistical challenge that infrastructure-poor Indonesia faces to organise parliamentary and presidential elections in the world’s biggest archipelago nation, with 186m voters spread across thousands of islands that stretch for 3,000 miles from east to west.
Sixteen years after the fall of long-ruling dictator Suharto, Indonesia has developed into a thriving, boisterous democracy, where structural problems such as corruption and inequality persist but are freely discussed in the nation’s many media outlets.
While far from flawless, Indonesia’s recent national elections have been freer and fairer than politically troubled neighbours such as Malaysia and Thailand and most other Muslim-majority nations.
With President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono stepping down after reaching the legal two-term limit, the conduct of these elections will set the bar of legitimacy for the first new regime in a decade.
Full Article: Indonesia wrestles with election logistics – FT.com.