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January 2009

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The Indonesians newspapers and media are quite naturally increasingly focusing on reporting and analyzing the various aspects of the campaigning for the 2009 parliamentary and presidential elections. To date the overwhelming weight of reports, reflecting the nature of the political activity that is most public, is focused on the question of who will be the various parties presidential candidate, and, no less important in terms of governmental outcome, who might be the various presidential candidate’s vice-presidential partner.
Candidates
Just in the last few days, HANURA’s General Wiranto has been nominated formally as his party’s candidate and GOLKAR chairperson Jusf Kalla has made the enigmatic but sufficiently provocative statement that he wants to be a “state leader”. A LP3ES poll has concluded that the combination of PDIP’s Megawati with GOLKAR’s (?) or Partai Republikan(‘s) Sultang Hamnegkubuwono the X1th (Sultan of Jogja) might just beat the current combination of President Yudhoyono (Democrat Party) and Jusuf Kalla. Other poll’s suggest the GERINDRA Party’s TV advertising campaigning is shifting General Prabowo up the polling score in his bed for the Presidential candidate. Rizal Ramli, currently nominated as a presidential candidate by the Employer and Employee Party as well as the Star Reformation Party (PBR) is hinting that his being charged with fomenting rioting back in May, 2008 is meant to destabilize his presidential ambitions.

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While the campaign for the 2009 parliamentary and presidential elections have just begun, it is already possible to discern the embryonic development of a national leadership crisis, which will be associated with a major crisis of legitimacy. The cause of this crisis is the increasing gap between the majority of the Indonesian public and what has been increasingly referred to as the “elit politik” – the political elite embodied in the all the political parties standing candidates in the elections, and the various former New Order officials – including ex-generals – maneuvering around the edges of the electoral processes. The gap represents a deepening alienation between rakyat and elit.

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