Editorials: Sore Losers Spite Indonesia’s Democracy | Elizabeth Pisani/New York Times

As Indonesia’s departing president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, spoke last month in the United States about the importance of public participation in politics, the party he leads was working to deprive Indonesians of their right to vote directly for their district leaders or mayors. The move was an attempt by Jakarta’s old guard, whose candidate lost the last national elections in July, to reassert itself in the face of a new breed of politician: competent local administrators who can appeal directly to voters rather than bend to the whims and corrupt interests of their political parties. That generational clash — between candidates whose politics were shaped during the 32 years Suharto held power and those who have come of age professionally since his authoritarian rule ended in 1998 — was the central narrative of the presidential election. In the old guard’s corner was Prabowo Subianto, a former general and son-in-law of Suharto who promised strong-arm government and glory for Indonesia. In the reformist corner was Joko Widodo, a poor-boy-made-good figure and former mayor of Jakarta, who spoke quietly of serving the people. Mr. Joko’s “political outsider” narrative won narrowly, and Mr. Prabowo did not give up easily; he unsuccessfully challenged the result in court, and has never admitted defeat or congratulated his opponent, who takes office Oct. 20.

Indonesia: Little Chance Seen in Overturning New Indonesia Election Law | Wall Street Journal

Allies of President-elect Joko Widodo are working to overturn a new law that ends direct regional elections in Indonesia, a battle that will require a Constitutional Court decision to succeed soon. Lawmakers on Friday passed a law that ends the world’s third-largest democracy’s nine-year experiment with direct elections for mayors, governors and others. The law empowers elected regional councils to appoint these leaders instead. Indonesia’s presidency will still be chosen in direct elections by voters every five years. The legislative vote was won by a coalition of parties who opposed Mr. Widodo in Indonesia’s presidential election this year. The coalition was led by the party of Prabowo Subianto, a former army general in the era of authoritarian ruler Suharto who lost a hard-fought election against Mr. Widodo in July. Mr. Subianto’s allies argued that elections are too expensive in the sprawling nation of 250 million, among other things.

Indonesia: Right to directly elect governors lost in Indonesia | CNN

Indonesia’s parliament voted on Friday to do away with direct local elections in a move that critics say is a huge step backward for the country’s fledgling democracy. Proponents of the law change, to scrap direct elections for mayors and governors, had argued local elections had proven too costly, and were prone to conflict and corruption. The bill was backed by the coalition behind losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto. But critics disagreed, and questioned the timing of the bill, first proposed in 2012, just two months after the election of Joko Widodo. Titi Anggraini, director of the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem), said that many were upset by the law change. “I feel so disappointed. It shows how strong the opponents to democracy are. We are facing the biggest enemy of democracy.”

Indonesia: Decade of Direct Local Elections Threatened | Bloomberg

Indonesia’s incoming president began his political ascent as a mayor in a system of local elections. The parties of the candidate he beat in July will try to change the law next week to prevent that happening again. Lawmakers will vote Sept. 25 on a bill to revise a 2004 law on regional government that enabled direct elections. The draft, seen by Bloomberg News, would turn the clock back to a system of local assemblies choosing regional leaders that was created after the downfall of the late dictator Suharto. The vote in parliament, where parties on the losing side of the presidential ballot now hold 75 percent of seats, poses a test for the world’s third-largest democracy and President-elect Joko Widodo, who got his start as mayor of the city of Solo. The bill, opposed by Widodo and outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, is sponsored by the coalition of losing candidate Prabowo Subianto and may mark a reversal of the shift in power to the regions that began in 2001.

Voting Blogs: ‘Change’ in Indonesia: critical reflections on the Indonesian elections | openDemocracy

Indonesia is under the spell of ‘change’. Last Thursday 21 August the Constitutional Court confirmed that Joko Widodo, or Jokowi as he is commonly referred to, will be the new president of Indonesia for the next five years. For many, Jokowi and his political style represent a clean break with traditional politics, and although his popularity waned in the last few weeks due to a disorganised political campaign, he still enjoys great confidence among large sections of the country’s urban poor and middle class. Foreign observers waved him much praise as well: ‘His success will mean real ‘change’ – and it will have major implications for not only Jakarta or Indonesia but also much of Asia’, wrote the prominent Indian commentator Pankaj Mishra. Elsewhere, his rise to power was compared with that of Obama. Who is this man, who does he represent and what does ‘change’ mean in his words? Can he bring about a revolution in Indonesian politics, or is he indeed a new Obama?

Indonesia: Indonesia’s highest court to decide on election challenge | Reuters

Indonesia’s highest court is widely expected on Thursday to uphold last month’s hotly contested presidential election, paving the way for Joko Widodo to take over as leader of the world’s third largest democracy. Losing candidate Prabowo Subianto has asked the Constitutional Court to overturn the election result, saying the vote was tainted by mass fraud. The verdict, expected at around 2 p.m. (0300 EST), cannot be appealed. The case is widely seen as a face-saving gesture and has been a common course of action in previous elections. The court has never overturned the result of a presidential election.

Indonesia: Court rejects election loser’s appeal | The Washington Post

Indonesia’s top court on Thursday rejected an appeal by the losing candidate in last month’s presidential election over alleged voting irregularities, removing any uncertainty around the victory of Jakarta Gov. Joko Widodo. Prabowo Subianto, a former general with links to the regime of ex-dictator Suharto, had alleged massive fraud in the July 9 polls and filed a complaint in the Constitutional Court. He presented evidence and witness testimony for his claim, but all nine judges at the court ruled it was groundless. “The ruling is final and binding, but does not necessarily reflect truth or justice,” Tantowi Yahya, a spokesman for a coalition of political parties supporting Subianto, told a news conference. The verdict means that Widodo, a former furniture exporter who stands out among Indonesia’s political elite for his humble upbringing and lifestyle, can press ahead with preparing to take over the government of the world’s fourth most populous nation, a regional economic powerhouse.

Indonesia: Court Expected to Clear Vote Results | Wall Street Journal

The final element of uncertainty around Joko Widodo’s election to Indonesia’s presidency is set to clear later Thursday, freeing him to focus on an economy in dire need of reinvention. The country’s Constitutional Court is widely expected to strike down a challenge by Prabowo Subianto, a former army general who ran against Mr. Widodo in July elections and who had alleged voting irregularities. Its decision cannot be appealed. Since hearings to Mr. Subianto’s challenge began earlier this month, his supporters have held rallies in front of the court. Ahead of Thursday’s decision, police fired tear gas and used water cannons on a crowd of thousands of protesters in downtown Jakarta in an attempt to keep them away from the court.

Indonesia: Election Dispute In the Hands of These Nine Judges | Wall Street Journal

Indonesia’s Constitutional Court will soon issue a decision on a legal challenge by presidential contender Prabowo Subianto to overturn the results of last month’s election, in which Jakarta Gov. Joko Widodo was declared the winner. It will be one of the biggest decisions in the history of Indonesia’s young democracy, and it will be left to the court’s nine judges. The justices are appointed by the House of Representatives, the president and the Supreme Court, each of which is entitled to appoint three justices to serve five-year terms at two term limits. Exception lies with the chief justice, who is elected by the other court judges to serve a term of only 2.5 years. In a court whose responsibilities include dissolving political parties and resolving disputes over election results, the judges are a mixed group. Some have links to political groupings that have supported Mr. Subianto. Others are career judges, some with backgrounds in Islamic law.

Indonesia: Presidential Election Loser Prabowo Demands New Vote | Bloomberg

Prabowo Subianto, the Suharto-era general who lost Indonesia’s presidential election by millions of votes, called on the Constitutional Court to immediately declare him the winner or else hold a nationwide revote. The demands were included in an updated challenge that Prabowo’s legal team filed with the court alleging fraud in the July 9 presidential poll. Prabowo, 62, says the victory for Joko Widodo, the Jakarta governor known as Jokowi, was “legally invalid” because it was obtained “unlawfully” or through “abuse of authority” by the election commission, the court said in a statement today.

Indonesia: Court Begins Hearing Election Dispute | Associated Press

Indonesia’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday began hearing a challenge of the result of the country’s July 9 presidential election, in which Jakarta Gov. Joko Widodo was declared victor. Losing candidate Prabowo Subianto filed a complaint with the court last month, alleging that “structural, systematic and massive fraud” by the Election Commission had destroyed his chances of leading Southeast Asia’s largest economy. On July 22, the commission declared Widodo, widely known as Jokowi, the winner with 53 percent of the votes, more than 8 million more than Subianto, a former general under longtime dictator Suharto. Subianto’s representatives walked out before the final tally was completed. The former general did not concede and called on supporters to reject the results, saying they were flawed and violated the principles of democracy.

Indonesia: Court Hears Prabowo Subianto’s Challenge to Indonesia Election Results | Wall Street Journal

Indonesia’s Constitutional Court began hearing a legal challenge Wednesday lodged by presidential contender Prabowo Subianto to overturn the results of last month’s election, won by Jakarta Gov. Joko Widodo. The former army general lost the tightly contested two-man race by 8.4 million votes, the country’s election commission said July 22, in an official count two weeks after more than 133 million ballots were cast. Mr. Widodo accumulated 53.15% of the votes, a gap that legal and political experts have said is all but unbridgeable in Mr. Subianto’s attempt to challenge the results on the basis of what he has said is wide-scale fraud and irregularities. Chief among Mr. Subianto’s claims is the contention that ballots exceeded the number of eligible voters at more than 50,000 of the sprawling country’s 479,000 polling stations.

Indonesia: Presidential Election Explained | Eurasia Review

Indonesia’s presidential election has heralded a change in the old guard, with Joko Widodo emerging as the winner of the mandate that took place on 9 July. The election, that took place 16 years after Indonesia’s transition to democracy and the overthrow of the Suharto regime, indicates the consolidation of the democratic structures within this nascent democracy. Interestingly in this election, Jokowi, as he is popularly known, represents a change from the older leadership in Indonesia – that has often been associated with political families and the military leadership. In that context, he is a newcomer on the national political scene – with his earlier avatar in politics as the governor of Jakarta and as the mayor of Solo. What is significant about his victory is that his opponent was Prabowo Subianto – Suharto’s son-in-law, and has been implicated for human rights violations. This is also indicative of the degree of discomfort the linkages to the past regime brings among the population, despite Prabowo Subianto being likely to allege the results to be fraudulent.

Indonesia: Courts to decide on election fraud allegations | The Malay Mail Online

An attempt by ex-general Prabowo Subianto to overturn the Indonesian vote that elevated Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo to the presidency is set to hinge on nine justices in a test of the highest court for election matters. Prabowo’s lawyer said the Suharto-era commando will file a suit with the Constitutional Court tomorrow questioning the validity of about 30 million votes after Widodo, known as Jokowi, won by 8.4 million ballots. Prabowo, 62, pulled out of vote counting after calling the July 9 poll “undemocratic” and riddled with fraud. Prabowo’s last-minute effort to swing the result will raise pressure on the court to issue a decision rooted in the law. Failure to deliver a clean result would be a setback for a young democracy still emerging from decades of rule by dictator Suharto, and may risk street protests that could destabilise Asia’s fifth-largest economy. “Voters believe the election was fair and from the perspective of the public it’s doubtful there’s been massive fraud,” according to Dodi Ambardi, executive director of polling agency Lembaga Survei Indonesia and a member of Persepi, an organisation of survey companies. A ruling changing the outcome “will result in unrest in Indonesian society because there will be so much evidence showing the election commission’s vote-counting process, which was done in the public eye, is being overturned.”

Indonesia: Subianto Set to Challenge Indonesia Election Results | Wall Street Journal

Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto will challenge results from the July 9 election at Indonesia’s Constitutional Court, focusing a final bid for leadership of the world’s fourth most-populous nation on what his team suspects are irregularities involving 21 million votes. Jakarta Gov. Joko Widodo was declared president-elect of the Southeast Asian nation Tuesday with 53.15% of the vote, defeating Mr. Subianto by a margin of 8.4 million votes. More than 133 million ballots were cast in what was a tightly-contested two-man race to the end. Mr. Subianto’s campaign team on Wednesday raised questions about voting at about 52,000 of the country’s 479,000 polling stations and demanded a revote at those stations. They said that ballots cast at those stations far exceeded their total number of eligible voters. “We will prove improper conduct,” said team lawyer Mahendra Datta.

Editorials: Indonesia’s democracy: A new kind of president | The Economist

The wait is over. After taking two weeks to count 135m ballots from 480,000-odd polling stations across the vast archipelago, Indonesia’s Election Commission (the KPU) has at last confirmed that Joko Widodo has been elected president. The commission said that Mr Joko, the governor of Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, and his vice-presidential running mate, Jusuf Kalla, won 71m votes at the election on July 9th. That represents 53.2% of the valid votes. The losers, Prabowo Subianto and Hatta Rajasa, won 62.6m votes, or 46.9%. Mr Joko was victorious in 23 of the country’s 33 provinces. His winning margin of 8.4m votes, or 6.3 percentage points, was even wider than had been predicted by most of the respected pollsters on the night of the election.

Editorials: Living Dangerously in Indonesia | Wall Street Journal

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.

Indonesia: Election winner to be declared as supporters urged to ‘stay at home’ | The Guardian

Supporters of the two camps contesting Indonesia’s presidential election have been urged to stay at home and avoid conflict when the official result is declared. Thousands of police will secure the nation’s electoral commission on Tuesday, when it is expected to officially name Joko Widodo the winner of the hard-fought 9 July contest. With more than 130 million eligible votes counted, the wait for an official winner is finally over after Joko, Jakarta’s popular governor, and former general Prabowo Subianto, both claimed victory. The closeness of the result, and also the polarising nature of the candidates, has raised fears that unrest could follow the declaration. National police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar said 3,200 officers would guard the electoral commission, but he was not expecting trouble. “People should just watch it on TV, stay at home,” he said.

Indonesia: Delay being sought for release of Indonesia’s election results| Wall Street Journal

The former army general vying for the Indonesian presidency on Sunday urged the elections commission to address possible voting irregularities, as one of his top allies alleged “cheating” and called for a delay in the release of official results. Former Suharto-era general Prabowo Subianto’s team repeated an assertion he’s made since the election that they had uncovered a number of irregularities in the polls. Indonesia’s national elections commission “guaranteed” that the process would be “clean and transparent,” Mr. Subianto said. “So we demand what has been promised by law.” Mr. Subianto said reports of irregularities needed to be resolved to ensure the count was legitimate. The official results are to be announced Tuesday. Failing to act on the claims of irregularities would call into question the legitimacy of the electoral process, Mr. Subianto added.

Indonesia: The Good News from Indonesia’s Election Stalemate | Foreign Policy

We don’t know who the winner is yet, but the presidential election in Indonesia, the world’s third largest democracy, is already proving to be the most exciting in recent memory: messy, polarized, and full of drama. Both candidates — Djoko Widodo (known as Jokowi) and Prabowo Subianto — are claiming victory, each citing unofficial results produced by several private polling agencies. Indonesia’s official news agencies have now withdrawn their initial vote projections in order to calm the waters before the official results are released. The Indonesian Election Commission will start counting the votes on July 21. According to the English-language Jakarta Post, cases of foul play are spreading “like a rash during the vote tabulation phase.” Most of the complaints are coming from Jokowi’s supporters. Whoever wins, his margin of victory will be small. Both candidates have already made it clear that they will not accept defeat on the basis of the vote count determined by the Indonesian Election Commission (KPU). That means that the second-place candidate will probably take matters to the Constitutional Court, which will delay the official announcement of the results by a month, complicate the country’s already chaotic post-electoral politics, and test the (so far admirable) discipline of each camp’s supporters.

Indonesia: Not as Easy as One, Two, Three, Indonesians Join the Vote Count | Wall Street Journal

This year’s election in Indonesia has charted a lot of firsts for the world’s third-largest democracy. It was the first race between just two candidates, the first to end with quick counts from pollsters showing different winners and the first to use crowdsourcing to involve volunteers with the vote tabulation. The candidates, Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto, are both waiting for official results to be released by the Indonesian Elections Commission early next week and current President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has called for their supporters to hold off celebrating. In the meantime, several neutral groups have set up websites asking for volunteers to keep track of the vote count by submitting scanned copies of their voting papers. They’re also asking people to post evidence of irregularities on Twitter. Meanwhile, the General Elections Commission (KPU), which is charged with counting and confirming the votes, has started uploading PDF forms from each polling station to its website. Known as C1, these forms document the number of votes cast at each polling station and show how many went to each candidate.

Indonesia: Election dispute emerges as serious test for Indonesia | Financial Times

After 16 years of peaceful democracy, the dispute over who won Indonesia’s presidential election is turning into a serious test for both the country and outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, whose legacy will depend on how he handles the clash. Both Joko Widodo, the reformist Jakarta governor, and Prabowo Subianto, a self-styled military strongman, have claimed victory in the July 9 election, although most polling agencies and independent political analysts suggest Mr Widodo has won. The official vote count will not be completed until July 22, but both sides have already accused each other of trying to rig the process. If neither side accepts the outcome of the official count, it will be left to the national election commission (KPU), the Constitutional Court and President Yudhoyono to find a solution.

Indonesia: Presidential Standoff Hinges on Graft-Free Tally | Bloomberg

Former general Prabowo Subianto’s refusal to accept unofficial counts showing he lost the Indonesia presidential race to Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo has focused attention on the seven-person body that’s charged with confirming the votes in the world’s third-biggest democracy. The General Elections Commission is tallying votes from the July 9 ballot, with official results due in less than two weeks. About 140 million votes need to be added up across an archipelago that would stretch from New York to Alaska, with the numbers passing through village, district, provincial and regional tabulation centers before reaching Jakarta. While the election was violence-free and Jakarta’s streets quiet yesterday, a result seen as questionable by either side risks legal challenges and public protests. Even after the country moved to direct presidential elections a decade ago, having shaken off the rule of dictator Suharto in 1998, graft is widespread, with Indonesia ranked 114th among 177 countries in a 2013 Transparency International corruption perceptions survey.

Indonesia: Election Commission starts vote tally after both candidates claimed victory | The Malay Mail

Indonesia’s election commission began the task of tallying about 140 million votes to meet a two-week deadline to announce the winner of the country’s closest-ever presidential election after both candidates claimed victory. The disputed outcome raised the prospect of short-term uncertainty for Asia’s fifth-largest economy and the world’s third-biggest democracy, after unofficial counts by two survey companies showed Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo, 53, secured more votes than Suharto-era general Prabowo Subianto, 62. Both candidates in their victory speeches called on supporters to guard against attempts to manipulate the tally, while outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono urged supporters on both sides to remain calm following the vote.

Indonesia: Polls open after tightly fought presidential campaign | The Guardian

Indonesians are voting in the tightest and most divisive presidential election since the downfall of dictator Suharto, pitting Jakarta governor Joko Widodo against Prabowo Subianto, a former general with a chequered human rights record. After a bitterly fought campaign that saw long-time favourite Widodo’s lead shrink dramatically, voters in the world’s third-biggest democracy must choose between two starkly different candidates. A former furniture exporter from a humble background, Widodo is the first serious presidential contender without links to the authoritarian past, who is seen as likely to usher in a new style of leadership and consolidate democracy.

Indonesia: Tight Indonesian Election Sparks Unrest Fears | Wall Street Journal

Up to 190 million Indonesians will cast ballots in a tightly contested presidential race Wednesday, with questions mounting about whether one candidate can win convincingly enough to stave off vote challenges and unrest over ambiguous results. Pollsters say the race is too close to call between candidates with starkly different leadership styles and backgrounds: Jakarta Gov. Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto, a former army general under the late authoritarian ruler Suharto. Outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, at the end of his maximum 10 years in power, has warned of potential unrest in a close election, Indonesia’s first presidential race featuring only two candidates. The vote will pave the way for the first exchange of power between two directly elected presidents in the Southeast Asian nation’s history. More than 250,000 police will be on hand throughout the archipelago during the vote, with the military adding more than 30,000 in a supporting role.

Indonesia: In Indonesia vote, ballots travel on horseback and by boat | The Malay Mail

Carrying ballot boxes on their backs, Indonesian tribesmen climbed barefoot up a mountain in a remote part of Borneo island to ensure a small village would not miss the chance to take part in tomorrow’s presidential poll. It is just one example of the great lengths gone to in the world’s biggest archipelago nation, home to some 6,000 inhabited islands and stretching around 3,200 miles (5,150 kilometres) from east to west, to organise elections.Months of painstaking preparation culminate in a weeks-long operation, with ballots taken in speedboats out to remote islands, carried on horseback along mountain paths, and in helicopters and small planes to far-flung hamlets. There will be some 480,000 polling stations set up for the vote across the world’s third-biggest democracy.  Some 190 million eligible voters will cast ballots, from the crowded main island of Java – where more than half of the country’s inhabitants live – to mountainous eastern Papua, and jungle-clad Sumatra in the west.

Indonesia: Knife’s edge: Indonesia’s presidential race tightens as election day approaches | The Economist

In late June the two candidates in Indonesia’s presidential race both held rallies in Jakarta, the capital. Supporters of Joko Widodo, known to all as Jokowi (pictured right), walked and cycled through the central business district. From a stage set up at a roundabout, Jokowi thanked his supporters in a brief, rather flat speech. Prabowo Subianto held his rally at Bung Karno stadium, which seats more than 80,000. Trumpeters and drummers heralded his arrival in a white convertible. He was flanked by his running mate, Hatta Rajasa, and by leaders of the parties in his coalition—all wearing identical white shirts. The rally did not quite reach the theatrical heights of an event back in March, where he arrived by helicopter and pranced astride a bay charger. But he delivered a fiery speech, and was carried off on the shoulders of cheering supporters. Vulgar showmanship, no doubt. But Mr Prabowo has run a devastating campaign against Jokowi, clawing his way back in opinion polls from a 39-point deficit. The election, which will be held on July 9th, is too close to call. On June 30th Jokowi was polling at 46% of the votes and Mr Prabowo at 42.6%.