Instead of representing a triumph of democracy, Indonesia’s presidential election threatens to spark a crisis. On Tuesday afternoon officials were poised to announce that Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo won the July 9 election with 53% of the vote. But losing candidate and self-styled strongman Prabowo Subianto denounced the result, leveled charges of widespread fraud and withdrew from the race. “We are rejecting this presidential election, which is legally flawed,” Mr. Subianto said from his campaign headquarters, insisting that the vote was “riddled with problems” and “undemocratic.” As confusion spread, his brother and campaign advisor Hashim Djojohadikusumo clarified that “Prabowo Subianto is no longer a presidential candidate.” Though he has complained of irregularities since the vote, Mr. Subianto has marshaled little evidence that the result is illegitimate. Indonesia has some unusual voting practices across its 900 inhabited islands and 190 million eligible voters, but observers and officials generally judged the balloting peaceful, free and fair.
… The danger now is that a mere election dispute morphs into a challenge to Indonesia’s democracy—a particular risk given Mr. Subianto’s record. In the 1990s, then General Subianto was in Jakarta’s authoritarian inner circle as special-forces commander, son-in-law and possible heir to Suharto. He was expelled from the military in 1998 for leading bloody crackdowns in which democracy activists were allegedly tortured and killed. After a brief self-imposed exile, he returned to Indonesia as a businessman and perennial presidential aspirant.
He is also a critic of democracy. “Direct elections,” he said on the campaign trail last month, “are not in accordance with our own culture.” He praises the country’s 1945 constitution, under which the president was appointed by the legislature with no term limit, and warns that elections are as dangerously addictive as smoking.
Full Article: Living Dangerously in Indonesia – WSJ.