International affairs analyst Jonathan Manthorpe examines the prospects for better governance in Indonesia, following the failure of Joko Widodo, the touted “white knight,” to persuade enough people to support him. An excerpt:
For months the political life of Indonesia has been throbbing with the expectation that the hugely popular mayor of Jakarta, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, was all set to become the country’s saviour and President in July elections.
But in the critical preliminary parliamentary elections today, enough people appear to have had second thoughts about the suitability of the charismatic, but largely untried and tested Jokowi, as he is universally known, for the top job. Jokowi’s Indonesian Party of Struggle (PDI-P) was expected to get at least 25 per cent of the vote in the election for the 560-seat House of Representatives, and perhaps as much as 35 per cent. But with 80 per cent of the vote counted the PDI-P fell well short of those targets with only 19 per cent of the vote.
This failure has very real implications. Under the Indonesian constitution a party must win 25 per cent of the votes for parliament or 20 per cent of the parliamentary seats in order to be able to nominate a candidate for the presidency on its own.
With this result, it looks as though PDI-P will have to form alliances with minor parties in order to get Jokowi, 52, on the July ballot. Indonesia’s fragmented political landscape and the constant need for usually fractious coalition governments has been the country’s bane since the advent of democracy 16 years ago.
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