[Marxism] Indonesian presidential poll results

Tom O'Lincoln suarsos at alphalink.com.au
Fri Jul 9 21:37:47 MDT 2004

I said I'd write something when the votes were in for the first round.
We have clear enough results now to draw a few conclusions. The
percentages are:

SBY 33.7%
Megawati 26 %
Wiranto 22%
Amien Rais 15%
Hamzah Haz 3%

The top two candidates will face a run-off. Probably that will be SBY
and Megawati, though Wiranto is challenging the results.

SBY is former general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono; Megawati is the current
president and daughter of the country’s independence leader; Wiranto is
former Supreme Commander under Suharto with serious human rights baggage
(but less so after Xanana Gusmao embraced him for the cameras); Amien
Rais is a “modernising” Muslim intellectual; and Hamzah Haz is a Muslim
leader somewhat closer to the fundamentalists.  (But some
fundamentalists are, in fact, backing Wiranto). As far as I can see, SBY
is popular because he’s perceived as an “outsider”, as free of
corruption, and as a strong figure who will bring stability. The US
State Department likes him because he supports the “war on terror”.

SBY’s vote is impressive given he came from nowhere, but considerably
lower than the 45-50% being talked about quite recently. His vote seems
to have peaked too early. Megawati and Wiranto were able to claw their
way back because they each have a strong party apparatus that can get
the vote out reliably at the neighbourhood and village level.

Megawati’s vote has leapt upwards from the miserable 11% she was polling
a couple of weeks ago, but it’s still well below the 33% (I think -
relying on memory) she received in the 1999 elections. Clearly a section
of her support base has been turned off by her failure to tackle the
country’s economic and social woes.  But she still has a strong
following based on her father’s legacy.

Wiranto’s vote is basically the same vote his party received in 1999 and
again in the recent legislative elections. The Golkar Party, which ruled
unchallenged during the Suharto era, is strong in some regions outside
Java where it is given the credit for longterm development and where its
ability to “buy votes” by patronage is strongest. But in Java Wiranto is
still paying a price for his association with the killing of students in
1998. I think Golkar would have done better had it nominated Wiranto's
rival, Akbar Tanjung.

Amien Rais has done rather well. His party, PAN, is based on urban
Muslims. Amien has a certain history of anti-Chinese and anti-semitic
remarks, but seems to have cleaned up his act in that regard. I have met
impressive young activists associated with him. In the period before
Suharto’s fall, Amien was undoubtedly the most courageous of the
mainstream opposition figures. He was bitterly disappointed in his 1999
vote (around 5% as I recall) but now his vote isn’t that far below
Wiranto’s. Keep an eye on Amien Rais.

Hamzah Haz (who is currently Vice President) got a miserable vote. His
Muslim-based party had done considerably better in previous elections
and has a relatively strong party machine, but I think he was just seen
as irrelevant in a presidential race. He had made a point of associating
himself with supposed terrorist figures like Abu Bakar Basyir, but
whether the “fundamentalist” connections were an issue in the elections
I don’t know. What’s clear is that there is no major swing to
“fundamentalism” in Indonesian politics.

What does it all mean? Not much. They are all part of the same elite.
Either of the two leading candidates could be elected, if they can
convince other factions to back them in the second round. Akbar Tanjung
has already paid a visit to Megawati’s corrupt husband Taufiq Kiemas.
Another Golkar leader, Bomer Pasaribu who led the “yellow unions” under
Suharto, is talking of a coalition with Megawati. There will be lots of
horse-trading in coming days.

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