Presiden Jokowi: Inauguration Day As It Happened

Indonesia welcomed its seventh President to Istana Merdeka yesterday, on an inauguration day that was part ceremony, part street party, and full of colour and excitement.

This morning, we’ve picked out some of the most interesting stories and themes from social media over the last 24 hours.

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and AAP’s Gabrielle Dunlevy kicked things off with atmospheric photos of Jakarta at dawn.

The Papers 

The Jakarta Globe took a measured tone to the big day

While Kompas reflected on the grassroots movement which lifted Jokowi to the Presidency.

Anticipation Building

The free food on offer attracted attention early on.

Local media stuck to the big issues   

Meanwhile the now Vice-President, Jusuf Kalla was busy getting ready. How cute!

Before heading over to the DPR for the swearing in ceremony, Jokowi fronted the press with his family. Indonesia’s new first lady Iriana has so far taken a more low-key approach than her predecessor, Ani Yudhoyono.

 The Ceremony Begins

Former President Habibie sitting next to Megawati, who made an appearance at an inauguration ceremony for the first time since losing office in 2004 — it’s a touchy subject.

Secretary of State John Kerry represented the United States at the ceremony.

…but he wasn’t the only foreign dignitary in attendance — Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Singapore’s Lee Hsien Loong, Malaysia’s Najib Razak and the Sultan of Brunei also attended.

 Here we go!

Jokowi’s Inauguration Speech

Water was one of the major themes of Jokowi’s address.

Watch the speech in full:

The market liked what it saw, too:


It was a diverse crowd:

All up, the journey from the MPR to Monas took two hours.

Celebrations went on late into the night:

In between meetings with foreign leaders, Jokowi made an appearance on the stage at Monas:

All up, celebrations ran well past midnight:

This morning, it’s back to business as usual in Australia.

This morning’s papers

A quick sampling of commentary from this morning’s papers in Australia, Indonesia and overseas:

In their own words: Young Indonesians on the presidential election

On 9 July 2014, Indonesia will vote at its third direct presidential election, and the country’s youth will have a vital role in setting the country’s direction for the next five years. Clarissa Tanurahardja spoke with Dody Ismoyo, Annisa Sabran and Fina J Roza to find out what they thought about the forthcoming election.

What are your thoughts about the upcoming presidential election in Indonesia?

Dody: From what I think, the upcoming presidential election in Indonesia is the continuation of democracy that has been practiced by Indonesians since democratisation in 1998. The presidential elections since then have been relatively stable and peaceful. Although things started out a bit rough, it gets smoother as time passes by. I do realise Indonesia’s democracy hasn’t fully matured: politics should benefit the people first, so there is still a long way to go for Indonesia to keep learning and improving them selves.

Annisa: Our most interesting presidential election yet! People should definitely go and vote, make sure your voices are heard! Our fate for five years will be decided by that day, so choose wisely.

Fina: Presidential elections are a “must” for democratic country like Indonesia, but in my opinion, Indonesia’s society isn’t ready yet for implementing the democracy itself. It’s not an easy thing to choose one person to lead our lovely country, Indonesia, and it’s a big responsibility for Indonesia’s citizens (the voters). We not only have to understand the agendas of the candidates, but as voters we also need to comprehend Indonesia’s current needs.

The wise thing would be to see which presidential candidate that has an agenda which aligns with Indonesia’s needs. I think a good presidential election can happen only if the voters actively contributing and searching for information about the candidates so that they can make the right choice.

How do you see the role of youth in this year’s election?

Dody: Nowadays, the internet-based generation has started to become a much larger part of Indonesian society as a whole. We are used to keeping ourselves updated about what is really going on out there objectively, without falling for irresponsible propaganda. Information can easily be spread, however thorough filtering must always be in the back of our mind. That’s where the youth can play an important role, maintaining the transparency and fairness. Besides, in a society where the majority of the youth has become more and more educated, politicians should know that all we need is not a simple campaign promise or easy money, but for our society to advance to spur economic growth and social development.

Annisa: They represent a huge portion of the voters, and it’s important that we end the whole apathetic view towards politics. The whole nothing-is-going-to-change-anyway-so-why-bother kind of view is dangerous. Your voice does matter, and change can occur if we’re willing to take action. I think the approach by various candidates using online social media to interact shows that youth represent a large potential group of voters.

Fina: As the next leaders of our nation, youth’s role is very important. We need youth who aware about politics so the future of democracy in Indonesia can grow. The upcoming election is a great chance for youth to taste democracy, however the current politicians in Indonesia still not giving great examples. We need positive actions from them which can encourage Indonesia’s youth trust them more.

AIYA: Do you think Indonesia’s election signifies the growth of democracy in Indonesia? Why, or why not?

Dody: I don’t think it is directly related. Election is just one way of expressing democracy in a society. Democracy has to be deeply rooted in every person, from a simple discussion, teamwork, brainstorming, speaking up people’s mind etc without the need of fear of superiority, bully, bribery, bureaucracy, stable income etc for the whole society to grow maturely in a democratic way. We are free to speak out or do anything that we think is right as long as it doesn’t violate constitution or regulation. Strengthening the rule of law will support the advancement of democracy faster in our society.

Annisa: It’s an important milestone for democracy in the country, but holding an election is not enough. Democracy is good for countries that are ready to uphold the concept, and Indonesia is still learning the idea of democracy. The system itself has to be fixed, for example to abolish bribery in the election process and to make sure the system is fair and transparent.

Fina: I don’t think so. I believe democracy is citizen’s power, people power. I want to see people power, and I hope people’s voices will not be bought. Democracy is about people power, not about the power of money.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
— Margaret Mead

Dody Ismoyo has spent his life between the United Kingdom, Malaysia, and Australia. Annisa Sabran is spending her teenage years learning in Jordan. Fina J Roza is Indonesian living in Canada.

Q&A with Elisabeth Kramer, University of Sydney PhD Student

Elisabeth Kramer is a PhD student at the University of Sydney and a Teaching Fellow with the Department of Indonesian Studies. She is researching anti-corruption symbolism and rhetoric in Indonesia’s legislative election campaigns. She was in Indonesia in the lead up to the Legislative elections and we asked her a few questions about what she observed.

Why were you in Indonesia for the elections? 

My PhD research is on election campaigning and how discourses of anti-corruption are used by emerging parties at different scales, namely at the national and local levels. I’d already been in Indonesia for just over a year and a half and decided to come back for the six weeks prior to the election to see how all the planning done by parties and candidates I’d met in the past played out during the actual campaign period.

Since you were in Indonesia in the lead-up to the elections, what was the most fascinating thing you observed? 
The campaign rallies are always fascinating. The showy-ness of what parties do and how they try to appeal to voters is very interesting. Rallies with marching bands, sexy dangdut singers dancing, horses (in the case of Prabowo!). You really have to wonder whether they get their money’s worth with those events.

On a more serious note, one thing that always sticks in my mind is the attitude that different candidates have towards their constituents. I would often find it jarring to hear an upper-middle class politician who lives mostly in Jakarta tell you (with great authority) what people in the villages think, and what they need. Or disparaging comments about their understandings of politics and their ability to be swayed by money. Fascinating in a bad way, I suppose, because the lack of political education is a reality, but many candidates don’t see it as their role to enlighten people about the democratic system, just to convince the to vote for them. And yet they complain about it too.

Did you come across any ‘money-politics’? 
Money politics is a tricky term to define, but yes I saw cash exchanging hands. I also heard candidates pledge donations to mosques, churches, village funds and promise to fix roads and piping. If you broadly define money-politics as receiving goods or services in return for votes then this counts. But most candidates I spoke to don’t seem to define this as money politics but use other terms like ‘transport money’ or, when talking about donations, they talk about it as an act of charity. It’s a very blurry world.
There is an estimated 21 million first time voters in this years election, did you notice a strong youth presence in the lead up to the elections and on voting day? 
The majority of turnout at most rallies seem to be young people, but that could just be because they have nothing better to do. In terms of youth presence, I heard parties talk about tapping into the ‘youth vote’ but it wasn’t something I saw myself.
What were some of the key concerns of the Indonesian people in selecting who they would vote for? 
I think many voters were very cynical about these elections, but I also think it’s very difficult to generalise about what the key concerns were. Voters could chose a candidate because a family connection, it being someone they know or have met. Every party tried to appeal widely; corruption was a key issue, andalso things like food security and poverty alleviation were mentioned. I think what voters were essentially looking for was a change, a new direction from the stagnation that the later years of SBY’s rule seemed to bring. And perhaps one of the reasons that no one party gained a significant majority was because none of them really managed to capture the public’s imagination in this regard.
No political party was able to get the 25% needed to put forward a Presidential candidate, and now must form collations before the Presidential elections in July. How strategic will political parties have to be when forming these coalitions? 
Parties will have to be strategic but also need to make sure they don’t alienate their support base by forming the wrong coalition. It’s fair to say that despite PDIP’s less-than-expected result, Jokowi is still the favourite for the presidency. This means that many parties will be vying to pair with PDIP. Nasdem has already thrown their hat in the ring and this may be enough to get a coalition of 25%, but it may be tight. But other parties such as Golkar and Gerindra would seriously undermine their own credibility if they paired with PDIP  and nominated Jokowi because they have been pushing their respective presidential candidates for a long time now. So this is a time for parties to be very strategic about their choice of partners.
There are reports of election violations in Aceh, such as ‘money politics’ and intimidation of voters, do you think this characteristic of Indonesia’s young democracy?
I think it happens and many would generalise and say that it is characteristic but by the same token the vote count and polling booths I was at in Jakarta didn’t display much of this behaviour. The extent of such behaviour probably depends where you are and who the candidates are. It would also depend on your definition of money politics.
Social Media and the Internet have been important tools in these elections, both for the Indonesian people, candidates and political parties. They have also been attributed to Gerindra’s success in the legislative elections. Do you think Presidential candidates will have to increase their presence online and usage of social media, in the lead up to the elections in July?
I think social media is a very important tool and, being free, a great resource for presidential candidates that won’t blow out their budgets like television, billboards and newspaper advertising. I’m sure that presidential candidates will be using social media relentlessly in the lead up to July. I think, though, it’s importance shouldn’t be overstated. We also have to remember that not everyone is tapped into social media. Outside of the cities internet exists and you can connect on a smartphone, but not everyone has the technology or the knowledge of how to do this.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge for the incoming President? 
Negotiating the competing interests in parliament, selecting a cabinet that balances these interests while also choosing skilled and knowledgeable ministers who really understand their portfolios, and rebuilding public trust in the government, including addressing issues like corruption. Sorry, that’s more than one!

“Suara lo ngaruh!”: AyoVote mengajak pemuda berpartisipasi politik

Ayo Vote adalah salah satu organisasi baru yang berperan untuk mendorong pemuda ikut dalam pemilihan umum dengan cerdas. AIYA mewancarai Abdul Qowi Bastian dan Pingkan Irwin, pendiri Ayo Vote tentang maksud dan kegiatan organisasinya.

Foto: Ayo Vote

Ceritakan kami sedikit tentang tim Anda. Siapa mendirikan Ayo Vote, dan apa latar belakangnya?

Pingkan dan saya memulai Ayo Vote sejak akhir tahun 2012 lalu, tapi official launch Ayo Vote baru pada tanggal 1 Juli 2013, setahun sebelum Pemilu Presiden 2014.

Latar belakang Ayo Vote terinspirasi dari Pemilihan Gubernur Jakarta tahun 2012 yang secara mengejutkan berhasil menggugah minat anak muda Indonesia untuk aktif berpartisipasi politik. Banyak dari anak-anak muda ini yang ikut turun ke jalan mengampanyekan kandidat yang mereka dukung secara langsung.

Memanfaatkan momentum tersebut, saya dan Pingkan berniat untuk mewujudkan Pemilu Legislatif dan Pemilu Presiden 2014 menjadi sebuah kesempatan dimana pemuda-pemudi Indonesia mampu memeriahkan pesta demokrasi ini.

Tim Ayo Vote saat ini terdiri dari lima orang, dan ada sekitar 20 relawan yang membantu kegiatan kami.

Apa maksudnya Ayo Vote? Bagaimana Ayo Vote mewujudkan visinya?

Secara nasional, pemilih muda (17-30 tahun) berjumlah sekitar 50 jutaan atau 30 persen dari total pemilih (190 juta eligible voters). Dari data tersebut Ayo Vote berangkat untuk mengajak anak muda berpartisipasi dalam rangkaian pemilu dan mengedukasi mereka agar menjadi pemilih rasional.

Kami sadar bahwa banyak anak muda Indonesia yang belum paham sistem pemilu dan pemerintahan di Indonesia. Maka dari itu, Ayo Vote tidak hanya mengajak mereka, tapi juga memberikan edukasi politik agar anak-anak muda mengetahui hak dan kewajiban mereka sebagai warga negara dan menjadi pemilih yang cerdas.

Kegiatan Ayo Vote cukup beragam. Kami mempunyai website mengenai politik dan pemilu ( Di website ini kami menyediakan pendidikan dasar politik dan pemerintahan Indonesia, berita-berita terkait pemilu dan profil partai politik, calon anggota legislatif dan calon presiden.

Kami juga menyelenggarakan event-event seperti diskusi kontemporer di mall dan kafe untuk mendekati anak muda dan membuat politik yang lebih menyenangkan. Beberapanya di antara lain: Ngomongin Politik (Ngompol), Kampung Politik, dan workshops di kampus dan sekolah.

Apa demografi peserta Ayo Vote? Apakah sebagian besar pesertanya terletak di desa atau kota?

Target utama kami adalah anak muda yang sudah bisa menggunakan hak pilihnya, dari umur 17 hingga 30 tahun. Dengan berbasis online, Ayo Vote dapat menjangkau anak muda di berbagai daerah di Indonesia. Namun untuk event, acara-acara kami masih terpusat di kota-kota besar Indonesia. Anggota kami pernah diundang menjadi narasumber di Yogyakarta, Bandung, Singapore, Surabaya dan Manado.

Apa hal yang paling penting untuk kaum muda dalam kampanye pemilu ini? Apakah hal ini berbeda menurut pemuda tinggal di kota atau kampung?

Dalam rangkaian pemilu ini, kami menekankan pada anak muda bahwa suara mereka berpengaruh, sehingga sangat penting bagi mereka untuk memilih. Tapi memilih saja tidak cukup, kami ingin mereka menjadi pemilih yang rasional, yang bisa bertanggung jawab atas pilihan yang mereka ambil. Mereka bisa mencari rekam jejak calon wakil rakyat dan presiden di Internet, dan mengikuti berita sebelum menentukan pilihan.

Pemuda yang tinggal di daerah atau kampung belum mendapatkan privilege yang sama dengan anak muda yang tinggal di perkotaan, seperti akses yang luas ke media dan Internet. Tapi pemuda di daerah tidak boleh dianggap sebelah mata karena gerakan anak muda di daerah (di luar kota Jakarta) sangat aktif.

Ada banyak pemuda Australia yang tertarik akan pemilu 2014. Menurut pendapat Anda, siapa caleg (atau capres) yang paling menarik bagi kaum muda?

Ayo Vote tidak akan merekomendasikan nama seorang calon atau partai politik, karena Ayo Vote merupakan sebuah gerakan yang independen dan non-partisan. Lagipula, setiap orang memiliki preferensi mereka masing-masing tentang caleg atau capres yang mereka sukai.

Ada caleg yang sangat aktif mengampanyekan visi dan misinya di media sosial dimana banyak anak muda yang mem-follownya. Begitu juga dengan capres yang memiliki tim media sosial yang kuat untuk menarik suara anak muda.

Yang Ayo Vote inginkan adalah anak-anak muda dapat menjadi pemilih yang cerdas, tanpa digiring opini dari pihak luar. Dengan bekal yang kami lakukan, mereka dapat menentukan pilihan sendiri.

Australia pakai sistem pemungutan suara yang wajib untuk semua warga yang terdaftar. Apakah ini sistem yang Indonesia sebaiknya meniru?

Untuk di Indonesia, masih belum bisa dipraktekkan obligatory voting karena dalam konstitusi kita, partisipasi politik masih bersifat hak, bukan kewajiban. Bila diwajibkan, mungkin akan baik dalam segi voters turnout dan partisipasi masyarakat, namun ini butuh perubahan dalam konstitusi kita yang tentu saja butuh proses yang sangat panjang.

Di Australia ada banyak komentar tentang peralihan Indonesia menjadi negara yang demokratis. Apa yang masih harus berubah untuk Indonesia yang lebih demokratis, khususnya untuk kaum muda?

Untuk pemilu yang lebih demokratis memang perlu turun tangan dari semua pihak, dari penyelenggara negara untuk mengontrol jalannya pemilu dengan lebih baik, dari partai untuk mengadakan rekrutmen yang demokratis dan jelas (bukan hanya berdasarkan popularitas atau uang), dari masyarakat untuk mengawal jalannya pemilu dan pemerintahan, dan yang paling penting untuk meningkatkan partisipasi itu sendiri, karena tak ada gunanya ada sistem yang demokratis kalau masyarakatnya tidak mau ikut serta.

Hampir setengah penduduk Indonesia berusia kurang dari 30 tahun. Apakah Indonesia sebaiknya memilih presiden dan anggota DPR yang lebih muda, sesuai dengan demografi itu?

Adanya calon-calon muda memang sangat baik, karena bagaimanapun juga, yang benar benar mengerti kebutuhan anak muda ya anak muda itu sendiri. So they (hopefully) can cater to youth’s needs. Selain itu, anak muda umumnya punya ide ide segar yang dibutuhkan untuk mengubah pemerintahan ataupun kondisi. Namun harus diingat bahwa tidak selamanya yang muda adalah yang terbaik. harus lihat lagi rekam jejaknya, kapabilitasnya, visi misi dan rencana kerjanya, dan lain lain. Kalau memang yang tua yang lebih baik, kenapa tidak?

Apakah AyoVote akan terus menjalan setelah pemilu 2014?

Setelah pemilu 2014, diharapkan Ayo Vote masih akan terus berjalan karena masih ada pemilihan kepala daerah lainnya berlangsung di Indonesia.

Apakah tim AyoVote mau bilang apa saja yang lain kepada pembaca AIYA?

Suara lo ngaruh!

Video: Talking about Pemilu 2014

What are Indonesia’s young people saying about this year’s election campaign? AIYA contributor Jaime Berrill spoke to some young Indonesians on polling day in Jakarta last week.

We asked which where the most important issues, what they thought of the political system, and how they felt about Indonesia’s future. Nontonlah…

2014 Pemilu Preview: The Full Collection

Earlier this month, AIYA’s New South Wales chapter hosted an election preview event, with “politicians” from six of the major parties present on the night. Today, we’ve pulled together the full selection of videos from the evening — selamat menonton!

Prabowo Subianto, Partai Gerindra

As presented by media and policy advisor Alison Martin.

Joko Widodo, Partai Demokrasi Indonesia-Perjuangan

As played by the ANU’s Dr Ross Tapsell.

Surya Paloh, Partai NasDem

Presented by Fritz Siregar, SJM candidate at the University of New South Wales.

Wiranto, Partai Hanura

By Australian Strategic Policy Institute analyst Natalie Sambhi:

Partai Demokrat

Yet to announce a presidential candidate, Fajar Hirawan, PhD candidate at the University of Sydney, presents for Partai Demokrat:

Aburizal Bakrie, Partai Golkar

Last but not least, UNSW Conjoint Associate Professor David Reeve:

Election day: Indonesia mencoblos

Indonesia headed to the polls yesterday, electing candidates for national and local government, including members of the Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat, the national parliament.

We’ve picked out some of the most interesting stories and themes from social media on the day.


Al Jazeera and Berita Satu both have good overviews of the main issues in this year’s election campaign, in English and Indonesian respectively. Financial Times correspondent Ben Bland prepared a useful explainer:

Meanwhile, the Indonesia Votes team over at New Mandala were working hard throughout the day live-blogging the poll, including early results.

The word coblos, to puncture, comes from the nail holes used to mark ballot papers.

The papers

Here’s a look at some national and local papers on election morning.

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SBY’s letter

Early in the day, current President Susilio Bambang Yudhoyono shared a letter to the Indonesian people, encouraging them to use their vote wisely. First Lady Ibu Ani shared all four pages on her famous Instagram account.

Polls open

Early on, Twitter was filled with photos of polling booths setting up for the day. At this tempt pemungutan suara in North Jakarta, election workers prayed and sang the national anthem:

Ridwan Kamil, the Mayor of Bandung, encouraged voters to decorate their polling booths, rewarding the most creative with a visit to a five-star hotel:

This booth’s committee went with a more colonial theme:

It wasn’t long until the first votes were being cast.

In Pasar Rumput, voters didn’t have to leave their motorbikes:

…while outside Bogor, the polling station came to voters:

The candidates vote

News outlets were staked out early in the day to catch candidates at the polling booths. PDI-P Presidential candidate and Governor of Jakarta Joko Widodo was a big hit at Taman Suropati, around the corner from his official residence:

Prabowo voted near his residence in Bogor…

…while the well-coordinated Yudhoyono family weren’t far away in Cikeas:

Aburizal Bakrie, Megawati Soekarnoputri, Jakarta deputy governor Ahok, dangdut start-turned-politician Rhoma Irama and NasDem founder Surya Paloh also attracted attention.

Key themes

Many tweeps expressed their hope for wise leaders and honest government. One observer likened it to “choosing a husband or wife”:

Others reflected on the power of democracy to “punish those who betray us, and reward those who help us” at the ballot box.

Throughout the day, celebrities and media outlets were on board encouraging citizens to get out the vote.

Young and old headed out to make their choice:


Throughout the day, Twitter lit up with photos from voters heading home from the polling booths — many under the hashtags #pemilu and #guenyoblos (I voted).

Some voters used it to make a statement:

Voting with benefits

Lots of companies used the poll as a promotional opportunity.

At Jokowi’s polling booth, bubur ayam and snacks were on offer, while others offered free coffee and durian.

Money politics

Same candidates drew less-than-positive attention online for their efforts to buy votes.

Others reported that some voters were confused about the voting process, while a number of polling booths were short of ballot papers. Some hospital patients also missed the opportunity to vote.

Media outlets gleefully reported from the headquarters of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), where detained bureaucrats and politicians including the former sports minister and head of the constitutional court cast their vote:

Going to the zoo

Polling day was a public holiday throughout the country, and many Indonesians took full advantage:

Traffic around Ragunan Zoo in South Jakarta was heavy, as families looked for a way to spend the day off. In the middle of town, though, things were quiet:

By early afternoon, polls were beginning to close in the east of the country, and parties and observers began to prepare for the night ahead. Megawati wasn’t the only candidate to host an event — here’s a photo from Golkar’s event in Jakarta.

Of course, it wasn’t just in Indonesia where counting was underway — here’s a photo from the Indonesian Consulate-General in Melbourne:

The first “quick counts” began to arrive around 1pm — surveys conducted by private polling companies spread around individual polling booths. Although the official result won’t be known until May, these polls give a quick indication of how each party has performed.

Like any election, news channels reaching for a bewildering array of graphics and charts.

Early results

Tempo have put together a handy summary of the quick poll results from different polling comapnies.

Early results pointed to a disappointing result for the PDI-P, with its share of the vote lagging behind expectations. Some questioned whether the party’s national campaign had failed to capitalise on the “Jokowi effect”. PDI-P members, including Megawati’s daughter Puan Maharani, however, were initially confident that this would increase as more booths in Java reported their results.

Interviewed by Metro TV’s Najwa Shihab, Jokowi said he was thankful to see the PDI-P in front.

Other observers noted Aburizal Bakrie’s confidence that his party would reach a greater-than-20% share of the vote, declaring that he would not form a coalition with another party in this year’s election.

There were also questions as to whether SBY’s Demokrat party, despite a decent showing, had squandered an opportunity to increase its vote by declaring a presidential candidate.

Journalist Ari Sharp also observed that Gerindra will need a coalition partner to put Prabowo forward as a presidential candidate, while religious parties collectively a large enough share to run a candidate of their own.

The morning after

Papers this morning are mainly focussing on the splintered nature of the result, with no single dominant party. Republika highlighted the strength of the Islamic parties, which may be able to field a presidential candidate of their own, while local paper Harian Jogya labelled the result “surprising”. Media Indonesia, meanwhile, correctly notes that the parties are now scrambling to form coalitions.

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More reading

What are we missing?

Let us know your election day highlights on Twitter or in the comments, and we’ll update this post during the day!

Event wrap-up: AIYA NSW’s Pemilu 2014

As far as political debates go, AIYA NSW’s 2014 Indonesian Election Preview on Thursday 3rd April was pretty spectacular to behold.

A “politician” from six of the major Indonesian parties were present on the night – a remarkable Australian first! Associate Professor Simon Butt from the University of Sydney’s Law Faculty set the tone as the debate’s moderator under the guise of the Indonesian Constitutional Court, and drew everyone’s attention to the large envelopes on his desk before the speeches began!

Prabowo Subianto (Alison Martin, political media and policy adviser) of Gerindra took to the stage first, and nearly had us believing that his dubious human rights record would make him a more experienced President. Second up, the PDI-P’s Jokowi (Dr Ross Tapsell, Asian Studies lecturer at ANU) reminded us what all the fuss is about as he chose to avoid the stage altogether to sit among the audience. Jokowi adopted his classic ‘man of the people’ style as he jumped around asking people about which political issues matter most to them, of course carefully ensuring the cameras were always pointing his way!

The crowd also enjoyed passionate speeches from Nasdem’s Surya Paloh (Fritz Siregar, SJD candidate at UNSW), the newest running party, and Wiranto from Hanura (Natalie Sambhi, analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute). Both sought to persuade the audience that they were not one-man shows from minor parties, but have what it takes to win the 2014 election! The representative from the embattled Partai Demokrat (Fajar Hirawan, PhD candidate at the University of Sydney) assured us of his party’s tolerant and democratic credentials with statistics on just about everything, but even his assurance that his party will ‘memberi bukti, bukan janji!’ didn’t quite sway the crowd!

The speeches wrapped up with the spin-doctor to end them all, Golkar’s Abu Rizal Bakrie (Conjoint Associate Professor David Reeve from UNSW). Undeterred by jokes about the mud on his shoes (a reference to the Lapindo mudflow disaster in East Java, which arguably happened on Bakrie’s watch), Bakrie delivered an impassioned speech on his decision to celebrate his business success by buying a political party, and on why it was high time someone with a few less O’s in their name became President of Indonesia! The audience couldn’t contain their laughter as Bakrie rattled off the O-heavy names of his predecessors and fellow candidates, concluding that Joko Widodo was the worst of the lot and it was time to give the other vowels a chance!

A great Q&A session at the end contained both serious and funny questions, from whether Jokowi felt he was abandoning his responsibilities as Governor of Jakarta, to whether Bakrie preferred Marcella or Olivia (the actresses involved in his dubiously ‘educational’ trip to the Maldives in 2010)! While the night was perhaps a little light on party policies, it was heavy on entertainment value and was certainly a political debate like no other. Thanks to our amazing speakers and to the wonderful audience who attended!

I tweet and I vote: Indonesia’s 2014 elections and social media

It’s no secret that social media is becoming an important tool for spreading information in Indonesia. But what role will it play in the 2014 elections?

The numbers are impressive: Jakarta is the ‘twitter capital of the world’, and Bandung comes in 6th in the world rankings. By 2015 there will be more active Sims in Indonesia than people and with cheap smart phones becoming increasingly accessible, Indonesia’s social media usage is expected to grow. For the upcoming elections in Indonesia, candidates and political parties will need to quickly develop social media campaigns to engage with the projected 21 million first time, tech-savvy voters.

A photo from @partaigerindra's Instagram account.
A photo from @partaigerindra’s Instagram account.

Indonesia’s youth voters are highly tech literate, with 80% of Indonesia’s Internet users under the age of 35. More importantly for the upcoming elections, 90% of internet traffic in Indonesia is directed to social networking sites, in contrast to only 6% being used to access political news and information. For politicians vying to be elected this year, social media is becoming an indispensible tool, which Prabowo Subianto, the Presidential candidate for Partai Gerindra noted allows him to communicate with 3 million people every night.

Prabowo is one of the key candidates for the upcoming Presidential elections, and has established a strong presence online. Run by tech-savvy Indonesian youth, Gerindra has a 24 hour social media campaign, to ensure that all tweets and Facebook comments are responded to within 10 minutes. Gerindra’s official Facebook page has over 1 million likes and Prabowo’s personal page tops 3 million.  Gerindra has the strongest online presence, followed by PDI-P. Golkar has also developed a social media team of 30 to drive their social media campaign in the led up the April elections, which will be increased to 50 in the lead up to the Presidential elections in July. Golkar’s chief of communications Mr Erwin Aksa notes that the aim of the ‘social media brigade’ is to engage the youth vote.

The power of social media was evident in the 2012 election of Jakartan Governor and newly nominated Presidential candidate for PDI-P, Joko Widodo. In the lead up to the 2012 election Jokowi garnered 500,000 twitter followers, as well utilized Youtube to promote his message. The election of Jokowi and Ahok has been noted as the first Indonesian politicians who truly understood the power of social media in elections, considering neither Jokowi or Ahok were residing in Jakarta.

Social Media represents a modern component of Indonesian politics, however old traditions are infiltrating these elections and have the potential to impact youth participation. Reports have surfaced of ‘follower-buying’, for just 40,000 rupiah ($4.00) 1,000 followers can be added to a Twitter account. Paying people to take part in demonstrations is common practice in Indonesia, and vote-buying is a key concern in the lead up to elections across the archipelago, however paying for followers and likes is a new phenomenon. The strategy will not necessarily correspond to votes at the ballot box, with Gerindra’s digital media strategist Mr Noudhy Valdryno noting research shows that only 6 out of every 10 followers could translate to votes on election day.

The power of social media in shaping the upcoming elections will not be known until July, yet it is clear that political parties are taking its potential power seriously. In early February, PDI-P candidate Tunggal Pawestri tweeted that Joko Widodo had been nominated as PDI-P Presidential candidate, the news was retweeted 240 times within 24 hours, however it was later proven to be a hoax.  Tunggal noted that she wanted to prove to power of social media to spread false news in the lead-up to the elections. Twitter was still the medium of choice when the PDI-P announced that Joko Widodo would be their Presidential candidate for the 2014 elections. On March 14, PDI-P Leader, Megawati Sukarnoputri announced that she had given Jokowi her blessing as the party’s Presidential candidate. The announcement was followed by a second tweet showing Megawati’s written endorsement.

There are 8.2 million conversations in Indonesia’s social media environment about the Presidential candidates, 6.9 million focus on PDI-P candidate Jokowi. These kind of figures illustrate the power of social media conversations to create waves of opinion that can shape the tech literate voters. Tempo one of Indonesia’s news outlets has tapped into the social media landscape, and has begun analysing social media conversations to provide statistics about Presidential candidates, on their site Tempo Political Index. According to their ‘buzz’ graph, which refers to the conversation about candidates on social media, Jokowi is leading the charge with over 75% of the conversations being about him.

The “total buzz” graph from Tempo’s political index.

Social media is becoming an aspect of everyday life in Indonesia, as well as putting Indonesian trends and news on the global front. Each day Indonesia publishes 2.4% of the global tweets, which means a tweet is sent every 15 seconds. For Indonesia’s youth population, social media is allowing them to engage with the upcoming elections, becoming informed of the political process and the candidates, as well as creating a dialogue between candidates, political parties and the general population.

Democracy is still a risky business

The winds of change that swept through the Arab world in 2012 heralded a democratic revolution, the so-called Arab Spring, in North Africa and parts of the Middle East.

Egypt’s Mubarak was removed and Libya’s dictator Gaddafi was killed. A new dawn for two of North Africa’s most influential countries seemed to have arrived as their peoples sought a truly democratic future.

A Yogyakarta resident votes in the 2009 presidential election. Photo by danuprimanto.

For many in the west, including Australia, the Arab Spring gave reason to hope that Islam and democracy could coexist.

But today, things look very different, particularly in Egypt where a popularly elected government has been overthrown by the army, and the elected President imprisoned. So perhaps the doubters were right: Islam and democracy cannot exist side-by-side.

And yet this conclusion overlooks another example of the overthrow of a long-standing military-backed dictator by a popular uprising in a Muslim-majority country: Indonesia. Here, the picture looks a lot more positive, albeit with some issues of concern as well.

It is now nearly 16 years since long-time Indonesian President Suharto resigned from office, amid massive social unrest and violence, including shootings of demonstrators and mass rapes of ethnic Chinese women in Jakarta, and economic meltdown. At the time, even the most optimistic commentators would have been reluctant to bet on a peaceful transition to democracy.

Yet in the intervening years, much has been achieved. Indonesia has held three sets of national elections, including a ground-breaking direct election of the President, together with innumerable provincial and local government elections.

Significantly, a president seeking a second term of office has been defeated – and a peaceful transition made to a new president.

In national elections, the proportion of the vote going to Islamic parties – and here we use a fairly loose definition of that term, to include avowedly Islamist parties as well as more liberal Islamic ones – is on the decline. At the last national parliamentary elections held in 2009, Islamic parties picked up about 25% of the vote, compared with 35% in 2004, and 34% in 1999. Although Indonesia is clearly experiencing something of a theological and social revival of Islam, this is clearly not yet translating into the electoral arena.

A massive process of decentralisation has taken place, shifting power away from Jakarta to the provinces, cities and districts. The Indonesian press is the most free in the region. And the military have all but disappeared from the formal political arena.

Interestingly though, while this has been happening in Indonesia, here in Australia we are bringing the military into politics; most obviously General Angus Campbell, Commander of Operation Sovereign Borders, General Peter Leahy, the Prime Minister’s personal envoy to President Yudhoyono, and also General Peter Cosgrove, the incoming Governor General.

Indonesia’s economy is now talked about in the same breath as the likes of India, South Africa and Mexico. Its annual growth rate for the last couple of years has been second only to China.

And on the social front, whereas during the Suharto era anti-Chinese violence was almost a fact of daily life, since his fall there has been virtually no such outbursts. Indonesians of ethnic Chinese background have played an increasingly important role in national life, including the political. Cabinet ministers of ethnic Chinese descent attract attention according to their performance, rather than their ethnicity.

Civil society remains vibrant and engaged. Indonesia has long had two of the largest voluntary organisations in the world in the Nahdlatul Ulama and the Muhammadiyah: both Islamic-based, with histories going back to the colonial era. Even under the Suharto regime they managed to maintain their independence. Today they are still massive organisations running schools, orphanages, hospitals and the like, though they have perhaps been less adroit in adapting to the new political climate than some other, smaller organisations.

All of this in a country with almost as many Muslims as in the whole of the Middle East. Impressive.

But real as these achievements are, there’s a down side to Indonesia’s recent history as well. Put bluntly, in many respects Indonesia’s progress towards consolidating its democracy is in danger of stalling.

Take the electoral process. There’s no denying that Indonesia today is an electoral democracy: a country with a political system where power rests with those elected to office through reasonably open and free elections.

This year, Indonesia embarks on yet another round of elections, for the national parliament, the Presidency and for nearly 20,000 seats in provincial and local assemblies.

All elections in Indonesia’s post Suharto history have been, in important ways, crucial ones for the consolidation of Indonesian democracy. But those coming up this year are more important than most.

There is a clear feeling amongst many of Indonesia’s estimated 187 million potential voters — 67 million of whom are first-time voters — that electoral democracy has not ‘delivered the goods’. The political system has proved very vulnerable to manipulation, especially by those with deep pockets. The main beneficiaries of the political system are seen to be the established political elites, and the political parties they lead.

Thus the crucial question to be asked about the coming elections is not which party will win most votes, but what the voter turnout will be. In 2004 86% of voters cast a ballot in the national parliamentary elections. By 2009 this had fallen to 74% — still a very respectable figure for a society where voting is not compulsory. But some commentators are suggesting this year; the turnout may be only around 50%.

The nomination by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) of the Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo (or ‘Jokowi’ as he is affectionately known) as a candidate for president has however, provided hope for many. Jokowi is hugely popular and highly respected despite his lack of national political experience. Polls indicate that as a candidate for the presidency he will win, and win quite easily. The recent floods in Jakarta might have damaged his reputation slightly, but nowhere near enough to threaten his lead.

The only currently viable alternative to Jokowi is Prabowo Subianto, retired Commanding General of the Army’s Special Forces, and a man with war crimes allegations handing over his head.

In terms of the economy, while the macro economy may be doing well, the gap between rich and poor is widening. The same phenomenon besets many rapidly-growing economies, including China, but it is of particular significance in Indonesia when combined with the declining legitimacy of the political system.

Indonesia also faces huge challenges in addressing its massive infrastructure requirements including roads, power, ports and communications, and also driving the need to reform its outdated labour laws and up-skilling of its workforce.

And corruption continues to dominate so much of Indonesian business and political life, contributing further to the sense of frustration and disillusionment among many of its citizens.

But perhaps the most damaging development has been the growth, in recent years, of Islamist extremism. Not to terrorist bombings, which have in fact declined quite significantly, but rather the growth of radical, above-ground Islamist groups.

Organisations such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the Islamic Community Forum (FUI) aspire to a more fundamentalist Indonesia and their supporters have been increasingly aggressive in pushing for this goal. Acts of violence, not only against Christian minorities, but also – and perhaps more significantly — against fellow Muslims such as members of the Shia and Ahmadiyyah communities, have become increasingly common and more brutal.

In almost every case the SBY government has done nothing; choosing to stand back and let the violence and killings proceed unchecked. Simultaneously, a number of convicted terrorists have now been released from jail. This worries many Indonesians. It should also worry their neighbours, including Australia.

So does Indonesia provide a more positive response to the Islam and democracy question than the Middle East with its Arab Spring? Yes it does – but the situation is still fluid. On balance, democracy, in some form or other, will survive in Indonesia and perhaps eventually flourish, alongside a relatively liberal Islam. But the struggle is by no means over.

Democratic consolidation is often harder than ending authoritarian rule.

Colin Brown is an Adjunct Professor at the Griffith Asia Institute, Griffith University in Brisbane, and Ross B. Taylor AM is the President of the WA-based Indonesia Institute.

This article from the West Australian, Saturday 15th March originally appeared at Our Indonesia Today. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australia-Indonesia Youth Association or its partners.