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Election in Indonesia: President criticized for alleged interference by Prabowo | Indonesia

Election in Indonesia: President criticized for alleged interference by Prabowo |  Indonesia


Indonesian President Joko Widodo is facing growing criticism over his alleged interference in the country's looming elections, as the country prepares to hold the world's largest single-day poll.

More than 200 million people are eligible to vote Wednesday in Indonesia's elections, which will choose the country's next president, as well as future executive and legislative representatives at all administrative levels.

Prabowo Subianto, 72, a former military general and current defense minister, is leading the polls. Behind him in the polls are Anies Baswedan, the former governor of Jakarta, and Ganjar Pranowo, the former governor of Central Java.

Critics say Prabowos' campaign unfairly benefited from the resources and support of the president, also known as Jokowi.

The presidential office denied any interference by Jokowi in the vote and it did not explicitly support Prabowo. However, the defense minister is running on a joint list with Jokowis' son, vice-presidential candidate Gibran Rakabuming Raka, an arrangement that was only possible after a controversial ruling by the Constitutional Court , led by his uncle Anwar Usman, created a legal loophole.

Indonesian elections of 2024: the candidates and the controversies in video

Jokowi has been accused of using his influence and government resources to strengthen Prabowo, who has vowed to continue his policies. A documentary, Dirty Vote, made by prominent Indonesian investigative journalist Dandhy Laksono, which accuses Jokowi of using state officials and funds to help the Prabowos campaign, went viral after its release on Sunday and was viewed millions of times.

Habiburokhman, vice president of Prabowos' campaign team, called the documentary slanderous, saying it was highly hypothetical and very unscientific.

Prabowo, a former special commander, is a controversial figure who is dogged by allegations of human rights abuses. He was dismissed from military service following allegations that he was involved in the kidnapping and torture of pro-democracy activists in 1997 and 1998, and is accused of rights abuses in Papua and East Timor. Prabowo has denied any wrongdoing and has not been prosecuted for the allegations.

On Monday, hundreds of students and activists protested, accusing Jokowi of abusing his power to help Prabowos campaign. Students gathered in Yogyakarta, on the island of Java, banging bamboo instruments and holding posters painted with slogans such as bringing Jokowi and his cronies to justice, Reuters reported.

Demonstrators unfurl giant banners to protest against the Joko Widodo government. Photo: Angga Budhiyanto/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock

Muhammad Waffaa Kharisma, a researcher at the Jakarta-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the elections had become a test of the limits of democracy.

Jokowi's support for Prabowo had a big impact on the latter's campaign, he added. Jokowi has a high approval rating and he was a popular figure even during Covid, which is a time when many governments and countries are under pressure from the population, he said.

Indonesian presidents are allowed to campaign for future candidates, but they must not use public funds to do so, and it is unusual for incumbent leaders to do so.

Polls suggest Prabowo has a strong lead, with polls released last week predicting he could get more than 50% of the vote on Wednesday, a necessary condition to win. Candidates must also win at least 20% of the votes in at least half of the country's 38 provinces. Without this, the vote will go to a second round.

Prabowo, who has projected a much softer image in recent years, is running for president for the third time, having lost to Jokowi in 2014 and 2019.

Professor Burhanuddin Muhtadi, executive director of Indonesia's independent public opinion research institute, Indikator Politik Indonesia, said support for Prabowo continued to rise, but it was still possible the vote would go ahead in a second round.

Voter turnout, particularly among young voters, would be a crucial factor, he said.

A decent turnout among young voters will certainly help Prabowo win the election in a single round. Any significantly low turnout among young voters would pose a significant challenge, especially if turnout among Anies and Ganjar supporters is higher, he added.




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