Daily Bulletin


  • Written by Hadrian Geri Djajadikerta, Associate Dean Research, School of Business and Law, Edith Cowan University

The Indonesian presidential election on Wednesday will be a re-run of the 2014 poll, pitting the incumbent, Joko Widodo (also known as Jokowi), against the same candidate, former major-general Prabowo Subianto.

Various polls over the past few months have consistently shown Jokowi with a sizeable lead. The last survey from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), for example, shows Jokowi with a lead of 51.4% among likely voters, compared to just 33.3% for Prabowo. (The rest are undecided.) The latest poll this week from Indo Barometer, meanwhile, gives Jokowi an even wider lead – 59.9% to 40.1%.

With a total of nearly 200 million registered voters expected to cast ballots at some 800,000 polling stations across the country, the election is a massive undertaking. Making things even more complex this year is the fact that legislative elections are being held at the same time as the presidential election, with some 250,000 candidates running for more than 20,000 legislative seats. However, the legislative elections have not received the same level of domestic or international attention as the contest between Jokowi and his old adversary, Prabowo.

Indonesia's presidential election: Is Jokowi 'religious enough' for conservative voters? 2019 presidential and vice-presidential candidates and political party coalitions. Supplied by authors

Islam and identity politics

Jokowi has spent the past few months highlighting his achievements since entering office in 2014, especially with infrastructure development and the streamlining of bureaucracy for businesses and the general public. Prabowo, on the other hand, has tried to chip away at Jokowi’s lead with a fiery brand of nationalism and promises of change (for example, the halting the importation of food and fuel, lowering prices for staples and reducing inequality) without offering any details on how to achieve them.

Read more: Experts respond to Indonesia's 4th round of presidential debate: Jokowi defeats Prabowo

Prabowo’s candidacy has made some in Indonesia nervous. He is the former son-in-law of the dictator Suharto, who ruled Indonesia for 32 years before being driven from power in 1998. Prabowo has praised some elements of Suharto’s “New Order” regime and has also been accused of committing human rights violations during his military career. (Prabowo has never been tried for any human rights abuses and denies all the allegations against him.)

Prabowo’s leadership abilities are also unclear – he’s never held elected office.

Indonesia's presidential election: Is Jokowi 'religious enough' for conservative voters? Prabowo Subianto has played the nationalist card at rallies, railing against foreign interests in Indonesia. Fully Handoko/EPA

Even though Jokowi has a big lead in the polls, he has nonetheless faced questions about his religious credentials and specifically whether he is “Muslim enough” for the hard-line conservatives in his party. Just days before the election, he embarked on a quick trip to Mecca in Saudi Arabia – a move many analysts believe was intended to shore up support among religious voters.

Jokowi has also selected one of the most influential Muslim clerics in the country, Ma'ruf Amin, to be his running mate. Ma'ruf is head of the Indonesian Ulema Council (Majelis Ulama Indonesia), a top clerical body comprised of registered Muslim organisations across the country.

Jokowi’s decision to choose Ma'ruf as his running mate has not been popular with his more moderate supporters. His initial preference for running mate was Mahfud MD, a former chief justice of the Constitutional Court of Indonesia and a former minister when Abdurrahman Wahid was president.

However, this move carried the risk of being perceived as not “Muslim enough” for religious voters, hence the selection of Ma'ruf.

Read more: One party’s lonely battle for minority voices in Indonesia

So far, this decision has seemed successful. The results of surveys indicate that although Ma'ruf’s overall popularity is not as high as Prabowo’s running mate – the former vice governor of Jakarta, Sandiaga “Sandi” Uno – most prospective voters are only looking at the top of the ticket. The contest is squarely between Jokowi and Prabowo.

However, there are also concerns that Jokowi’s more moderate supporters think he has not yet fulfilled some of his promises on human rights, and they may abstain from the election in protest. There is a campaign on social media urging people to abstain or cast blank ballots – known as golput in Bahasa.

What would a second Jokowi term mean for Indonesia?

Should Jokowi win as expected, he is unlikely to bring sweeping changes to the country. The main challenge for him will be continuing Indonesia’s economic growth. Further reforms are needed to reduce protectionism, encourage foreign investment and improve productivity. With the mining industry in decline, more attention should be focused on sectors with growth potential, such as agriculture, manufacturing and services, including tourism and hospitality. The government needs to do more to tackle corruption and cut red tape, too.

Infrastructure and mass transport development also remain key issues, as is boosting financial assistance to university students and expanding health insurance.

Read more: Either Jokowi or Prabowo, Indonesia's future in human rights enforcement remains bleak

As for foreign policy, Jokowi’s focus will likely remain on economic diplomacy and market expansion. One priority will be implementing the just-signed free-trade agreement between Indonesia and Australia, which will eliminate many tariffs between the countries and increase the number of work visas for Indonesians in Australia. The deal is also expected to allow Australian hospitals to open and universities to set up campuses in Indonesia.

Authors: Hadrian Geri Djajadikerta, Associate Dean Research, School of Business and Law, Edith Cowan University

Read more http://theconversation.com/indonesias-presidential-election-is-jokowi-religious-enough-for-conservative-voters-114353

The Conversation


Scott Morrison interview with Alan Jones - 2GB

ALAN JONES: The Prime Minister's on the line from Melbourne, Prime Minister good morning. PRIME MINISTER: Good morning Alan ALAN JONES:  thank you for your time. I wish we had three hours but look...

Alan Jones - avatar Alan Jones

Making suicide prevention a national priority

Providing greater support for all Australians needing mental health and suicide prevention services is a key priority of my Government.   Suicide takes far too many Australians, devastating famili...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Scott Morrison interview with Leigh Sales

LEIGH SALES: Prime Minister, welcome back, and congratulations on your re-election.   PRIME MINISTER: Well, thank you very much, Leigh. It's very good to be back.   SALES: Why is Labor's offer t...

Leigh Sales - avatar Leigh Sales

Business News

How to get the most out of a Premium Graduate Placement

An internship placement from PGP Australia can be a really rewarding and beneficial experience for anyone looking to get their foot in the door in a certain industry like human resources, accounting...

News Company - avatar News Company

Why having a website is so important for SEO purposes, even if you don’t have a lot of traffic

What most people out there can agree on is the fact that they will feel like they have something burning inside of them that they want to share. It may be to write a book, to create a product, to cr...

News Company - avatar News Company

Career Opportunities and Relocating

Moving for work can be an incredibly exciting opportunity. Yes, the amount of work will likely be larger, but so will the pay as well as the recognition. Despite the common nervousness, it is import...

News Company - avatar News Company


Top 8 Things To See And Do In Australia

Australia - One of the most popular travel destinations in the world, is camping, backpacking, diving, and road trip destination. The country’s immense beauty from Uluru to the Outback, rainforest...

Anna Jay - avatar Anna Jay

8 Tips How to Make Your Travels Memorable

Traveling the world is on every little kid's bucket list, and it usually remains to be there among top three well into the age as well. However, what makes traveling so fun and exciting is the nov...

Diana Smith - avatar Diana Smith

5 Reasons Why You Should Partake In Community Sporting Activities

Partaking in sports isn’t for everyone. Maybe you played a bit of sport as a child at school, but as an adult, you’ve barely picked up a tennis racket or kicked a ball, and that’s OK! However, there...

News Company - avatar News Company