08 July 2009

Presidential Election -- Indonesia

The "Quick Count" numbers are suggesting that the ticket of the incumbent president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and his running mate, Boediono, are going to win the election outright. The current numbers suggest that a September 2009 run-off will not be necessary.

The Indonesian Survey Institute (Lembaga Survei Indonesia / LSI) has SBY / Boediono running at 60.25%. Megawati / Prabowo are trailing in a distant second on 27.44%, and the incumbent vice president, Kalla, and his running mate, Wiranto, are trailing in a very distant third with a mere 12.31% (as of 17.20 Indonesian West Time). The other survey agencies are indicating that they have similar numbers based on their respective polling.

The site "Indonesia Memilih", as produced by Kompas has lots of good coverage and continual Quick Count updates. It is in Indonesian, but the Quick Count numbers are easy enough to follow for those with an interest in this presidential election but limited or no Indonesian language skills.

In many ways I am glad that I did not have a right to vote in the Indonesian Presidential Election. There was not a pair of candidates that I could have voted for and then walked out of the polling booth feeling comfortable with what I had done. I would have had to go home and take a shower and hope that karma forgave me in the long run.

I am someone who believes that if you have a right to vote, and you can exercise that right to vote then you must do so. In the Indonesian case, where so many have sacrificed so much to gain this right, then there is an even greater obligation to exercise that right. There has in the modern era been a movement in Indonesia to exercise the democratic right not to vote. This movement is known as "golput" or golongan putih, the white group. The idea is that if one refuses to vote this is the best way of expressing one's displeasure at the lack of viable choices to choose between.

I would have voted, if I had the right to do so, and marked my ballot in such a way that it was invalid. I would have exercised my right to vote and would have expressed my inability to choose any of the candidates as they are all as poor as each other in terms of ability.

That's just me. And, no one else is me. To each their own. I respect other people's right to express their displeasure by exercising their democratic right not to vote. I would hope that in similar circumstances those people would also respect my right to vote in the way that I choose.

Someone has to win this thing, and with world renowned abusers of human rights on each of the other tickets, the process of elimination leaves the ticket of SBY / Boediono. Unfortunately, during his first five years in the job SBY has not shown himself to be particularly adept at resolving the critical issues facing Indonesia in the short, medium, and long terms.

Nevertheless, Viva Democracy!


Jakartass said...

I wrote the following on 20.9.04, the date of the last presidential election: The Jakarta Post editorial today advocates a vote against the candidate you like the least. An interesting viewpoint. If Megawati was as detestable asBush, then I would certainly vote for SBY in order to keep her out. Unfortunately, he seems to be as characterless as Kerry.

Not much of a change in five years then.

Jakartass said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jakartass said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rob Baiton said...


Deletions made as requested.

Harry Nizam H. said...

Hi Rob,
We may not have a candidate whose quality is similar to Obama, but in Indonesia there is an addage:
" Tiada Gading yang tak Retak ", meaning: Nobody's Perfect.
One thing for sure is that we need an experienced leader who is backed by the parliament (DPR).

Jakartass said...

You've got an interesting blog which I'll be adding to my permanent links soon.

Rob Baiton said...


My point was not to suggest that Indonesia needed a perfect leader. I appreciate that the results show that there is considerable support for the SBY / Boediono ticket.

I am suggesting though that SBY is not all that he is cracked up to be. I am saying that he is the best of a list of bad choices. I am saying even if I had the right to vote, I would not have voted for him, or the others for that matter. I might have drawn little crosses on all of their faces.

I do not see the relevance of Obama in this particular discussion. Let's face it, SBY on the exit polls and Quick Count is doing a whole lot better than Obama did.

I have only been questioning the ability of the incumbent and whether he deserves a second term.

Harry Nizam H. said...

Harry@Jakartass ..
I appreciate your interest on my blog, I’ll link yours too.

Harry@Rob …
There is another adage: “ Tiada Rotan Akarpun jadi “ which in this case implies that if a good leader is not available, then the best of the bad ones would be acceptable.
Although 60% of the voters choose SBY in 2004, but his party only got 7% parliamentary seats (JK’s 25%), therefore he cannot perform well. Now that his party got 20% in last April’s parliamentary election plus backing of 3 major parties, we can hope that his performance would improve, and hope is what we really need right now.
Nevertheless, as part of a democratic society, other people may choose to be Golput by marking all the candidates in the ballot.

treespotter said...

First of all, i don't vote - even though i could probably register or something but i didn't. I tried to get my dog to vote, but he's not old enough.

I think I can probably do my own post on WHY i didn't vote and not take the space here but I would expect that the next government to be only more or less as effective as the last one (eg. not effective at all).

Indonesian coalitions are symbolic arrangements for comfort - with no guarantee of long term commitments. Despite winning more seats this time around, Demokrat and its coalition is FAR from dominating in the parliament.

If Golkar and PDI-P both decide to sit on the sideline and remain on the opposition then things could probably be even worse in the parliament than last year.

Clean technocrats and all looks good for the papers but it won't get the job done without support from the major parties.

Personally, i'm not really expecting much from a new SBY government, it'll be more of the same dysfunctional policies and mingling of private interests in the highest offices.

Let's hope i was wrong.

Rob Baiton said...


I would love nothing more than to have to eat my hat on this one. I hope that after five years of a second SBY term that all of the promises have come to fruition and the aspirations of the people have been realized (and not vaporized).

I am an eternal optimist, but I am also a realist. SBY's track record to date has not been all that inspiring. It is interesting that people are reading into the most likely scenario that SBY is going to be able to drive through his agenda no matter what now because the Demokrat party did pretty well in the legislative elections.

The Indonesian political scene is often a fickle one. There seems to me to be more chance for this SBY love-fest to go pear-shaped than there is for it to go off without a hitch.

When it is all said and done, SBY on face value seems to have been the lesser of three evils in this election. For my mind, this is hardly an endorsement of the man or his policies.

As I said, at the end of the next term, I hope I can log in again and post a postscript saying just how wrong I got it.

Rob Baiton said...


Just as an aside.

The Australian press are lapping up the Dr. Yudhoyono victory as a watershed moment in Indonesian democracy and touting how beneficial an SBY win is to the Australian / Indonesian bilateral relationship.

By all accounts a very rosy future for Indonesia and Australia is in the bag!




rani said...

I cross my fingers for the likely scenario, that Golkar will somehow pave their way to the cabinet. Possibly by first kick JK out of the party's head position. There's even rumors that JK didn't get full party support.

But I'll have some popcorn and coke to watch what will happen to the 'big' coalition. I suppose that one will turn to another circus :D

TOPNews said...

i see SBY figure still OK...
& OK...

th f sharing


Rob Baiton said...


Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment (even if it was for Tree).


I would imagine that the numbers for SBY / Boediono would hold up. The quick count / exit polling in Indonesia has been surprisingly accurate of the last couple of elections.


treespotter said...

rani, JK never got the full support, some Golkar bigwigs were openly in rebellion and - mark my words - he'll be out of golkar soon enough.

Rob, i hear you. I love to be wrong on this one, too.

Rob Baiton said...


Kalla is a spent force. The Golkar vote has eroded significantly under his stewardship. That said, I am not sure that Bakrie is the man to take the party forward.

If we are still writing in five years time, then I guess we can either suck it up and admit any errors or jump up and down saying, "I told you so".

tikno said...

As like you said "Viva Democracy!". That was the most important point.

At grass root, I often heard people said: "anyone who becomes president, our life still like this".
Hmm ... not thinking optimistic , I think.

Rob Baiton said...


I tend to agree with you. No matter what one's personal opinions are about the candidates or the seemingly teflon coated incumbent, the reality is that this was an exercise in democracy.

By most accounts, excluding the somewhat disgruntled losers, the election was fair. Even more importantly, it was peaceful.

Thanks for dropping by and enjoy your weekend. By the way, you seem to be up bright and early?

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This cannot have effect in actual fact, that's what I consider.