Thursday, March 6, 2014

An Aceh election primer, starting with the Presidential election

Ah, election time in Aceh.  The sound of sporadic gunfire and shakedowns can be heard across the land.   The Aceh legislative elections and their relation to the presidential and national elections is a little complicated, however, so partly for my own re-edification,  let’s first look at the presidential election schedule and slate of current candidates and their parties.

The presidential election will be held on July 9, 2014. The current president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (or SBY as we call him), has been in office for 2 5-year terms and is now constitutionally barred from running again.

In order to put forth a candidate for president, a political party must have at least 20% of the seats in the Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat, DPR /House of Representatives OR the party must win 25% of the popular vote in the 2014 parliamentary elections (coming up on April 9th) —and hold onto your flak jacket, it’s going to be a doozy.

But back to the Presidential election.  38 parties contested the election in 2012 and 9 got enough seats in the DPR to be able to put forth candidates.  This year, 12 national parties and 3 Aceh parties have been authorized to campaign; we’ll see how many seats everyone gets.

Of the 12 national parties, the ones to watch this year are:
·       The PDI (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan), Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle.  It’s expected that Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo will be the nominee after the April 9th legislative elections are over.  This is a well-established party that has opposed the current administration. [It has never done well in Aceh, however.]
·       The Golkar Party, which has already put forth Aburizal Bakrie as a candidate.  However, this has some in the party worried because of his low standing in the polls. [It was quite popular in Aceh in 1997 and 2004.]
·       The PD (Partai Demokrat), which was established to support the presidential bid of SBY in 2004, and now in decline after a series of corruption issues.  No candidate has been put forth as yet.
·       The Gerindra Party/Partai Gerakan Indonesia Raya/Great Indonesian Movement Party. In a word: Yikes.  The presumed candidate and leading party figure is Prabowo Subianto, notable for having never met a human rights violation he didn’t approve of.  The former head of Kopassus (Indonesian Special Forces) and the former son-in law of the late President Suharto, he was known to have coveted (and been denied) the position of Head of the Armed Forces and threatened violence against Vice President Habibe after being demoted.  He has been accused of overseeing torture and murder in East Timor, and had admitted to the kidnapping and torture of democracy activists in Indonesia prior to the 1997 elections and 1998 riots. In August 1998, the Dewan Kehormatan Perwira (Officers Council of Honor) tried, and found Prabowo guilty of "exceeding orders" in the kidnapping of anti-Suharto activists in 1998, and he was discharged from military services, and went into a voluntary exile in Jordan.  If he is elected President, many countries including the US will not be able to conduct business with his administration due to international laws regarding dealing with human rights abusers.
·       PPP/ Partai Persatuan Pembangunan (United Development Party) A currently weak party which nonetheless dominated the field in Aceh in 1984, it “has been striving with little success to establish an alliance of Islam-based parties before the 2014 polls; Party chair and Minister for Religious Affairs Suryadharma Ali has been nominated (October 2013) as the party's candidate for president..”

So there’s the field in Jakarta.

Tomorrow: The upcoming Legislative elections and Aceh’s representation/party ideology.  Isn't this fun?


  1. Good read! I can't wait og what going to happen in the next coming elections. But here u give us something to start with.

    1. I'm glad you liked it--and I agree, it will be really interesting to see what happens in these elections (and the days leading up to them). I'm going to try to follow them as closely as I can, so stay tuned, and thanks!