Indonesia’s 2014 Elections

Indonesia’s 2014 elections, namely legislative/parliamentary and presidential elections are on the horizon. The Election Commission (KPU) has scheduled both elections to be held in April 9 and July 9, respectively. For the first time in ten years, Indonesia will see a new president. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the members of the parliament (MPs), however, owing to the fact that those running tomorrow mostly (90.8%) are incumbent parliamentarians.

Before we go on, first thing first.

Why Are We Writing This? We’re Real Estate Company For Pete’s Sake!

Indonesia’s politics is famous for being highly unpredictable. No one expected Megawati Sukarnoputri to lose presidential seat after her party secured a massive win in the 1999 election; no one expect Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur) took that position instead; no one predicted that Gus Dur would be impeached in just 2 years; and be replaced by Megawati; no one could see Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono rose as president in 2004, and no one wanted him to be re-elected in 2009. And yet, those happened.

This writing only serves as a heads up of what awaits in the near future. Many of our clients, property buyers and sellers alike, are those who have lived in Indonesia for several years, or they’re going to for that matter (maybe including you, dear readers). Although it’s not that necessary, keeping yourself informed of the recent development around the country you’re living in couldn’t hurt. Just consider this as a compliment to our usual real estate service.

No matter how small, the new president will bring changes, and some will deal directly and indirectly with real estate industry. Who knows, maybe the new president will end the fuel subsidies program or even prolong it with even heavier subsidy. That politically correct move, we all know too well, has direct influence over building material price fluctuations. There. One more reason why we have a good reason of putting a piece about election in our blog.

Ok. Now where were we?… Found it. Read on!

Unlike the last two elections, the moment leading to the 2014 Election seems to be much quieter. This same day 5 and 10 years ago, all political parties and running candidates had made their moves with campaign ads running everywhere, from local TV stations to national newspapers.

Quiet as in before the storm, I may add… If anything, that’s because there’s no single occasion in Indonesia’s history as democratic country where you can put the words “quiet” and “election” in the same sentence… (except the one I just wrote). It just doesn’t make sense. As far as Indonesia is concerned, Election is supposed to be festive, loud and massive.

So, I guess it’s safe to assume, that once the campaign period begins in April, all that tensions, secret schemes, aggressive campaigning will blow up like a mofo.

How Will It Affect Bali?

Aside from heavy congestions in some roads, fear nothing my expat friends. If anything, this is a good chance to open a bet with your friends on who will be the next president. Read on if you want to score quick money ?

There have been rumors that certain areas in Bali, especially Badung and Denpasar, won’t permit the Ogoh-Ogoh parade; the otherwise compulsory tradition before Nyepi, out of fear that the parade will be used and abused as hidden campaign by political parties instead.

This actually happened 5 years ago. That was when I came to Bali for the first time, and it would’ve been my first time to see the parade. I remember, standing like an idiot in Seminyak, waiting in vain to see the ogoh-ogoh, only to be told that there was no ogoh-ogoh. Let’s hope that this is not the case this year.

The New President

New President means new policy. Unfortunately, the same can’t be expected from his/her legislative counterparts (see the reason above). At the very least, we can still hope to see the change  through the presidential decree.

Now, the big question…who’s that person to be called the next president will be?

According to various polls by trusted institutions e.g. Kompas (news media), CSIS (sociopolitical think tank) and many others, these three names are having the best chance to be elected. Such is my conclusion too.
First, the chief patron of Gerindra Party, Prabowo Subiyanto; secondly, Golkar’s Chairperson, Aburizal Bakrie and; third, if he decide to run, or rather, his party allows him to run, is the current Governor of Jakarta, Joko Widodo, who is affectionately known as Jokowi.

Joko Widodo aka Jokowi

Joko Widodo aka Jokowi

New Updates: On March 14, 2014, several days after I wrote this post, Jokowi made an official announcement that he’ll run for presidency.

Among the three, Jokowi is the one with the highest likability and electability (43.5% according to Kompas), followed by Prabowo (11.1%) and Bakrie (9.2%), respectively.

Many sees Jokowi as a humble person, a reformer figure, and a clean, strictly no nonsense kind of politician; qualities that distinct himself from other national figures. Those have made him extremely popular both in the grassroots and middle-upper social classes. A piece run by New York Times confirms it.

Here lies the problem though. As of now, merely 5 months before the election, it’s not yet clear whether he will run as his party’s, PDIP, presidential candidate or not. Jokowi’s boss, PDIP’s Chairwoman, Megawati Soekarnoputri seems to dillydally upon this subject for reasons unbeknownst to others. Maybe because she plans to run herself (this would be the third time in 10 years). Maybe she simply wants to shield Jokowi from unnecessary scrutinies of his political opponents (who simply increase in numbers since he was elected as governor); or maybe because she hasn’t found the exact formula on how to position herself if Jokowi runs and wins in the election. Having your subordinate as the new president, and thus The Boss, could be awkward, both politically and personally.

Prabowo Subianto

Prabowo SubiantoPrabowo, meanwhile, looks like the man with the plan. As the son of the revered economist, the late great Prof. Sumitro Djojohadikusumo, and former son-in-law of the late former president, Soeharto, being Indonesia’s next president is somewhat befits him perfectly. His military background and firm character would do very well in leading this country. As the patron of Gerindra party,  this former special forces general turned businessman(?)–I actually don’t know what he’s doing after being dismissed by the army in 1999–has always said on how he wants to boost the country’s agricultural sectors to improve the life quality of farm-related workforce. Such a noble cause that could win him the votes of rural Indonesian, and thus, the election.

However, his past, especially during the East Timor “liberation” and during his tenure as Kopassus (Indonesia’s bad-ass special force) high rank officer is somewhat murky. Allegation of violation of human rights would be a triumph card his opponents wants to bring out if they have to, and they will.

Aburizal Bakrie

Aburizal-BakrieAmong the three, Bakrie is somewhat trails far behind in term of popularity and electability. But, let’s not forget that he’s backed by the once ruthless, massive political machine known as Golkar, in which he holds the chairman position. Bakrie’s prowess as politician is somewhat obscure, especially because he’s spent all his life as businessman than politician.

His business groups, run by family and relatives, own companies and ventures as diverse as Indonesia’s tribes; from mining company and hospitality industry to construction to agricultural industry. One of his company just recently made a major investment in Path. He holds a very firm position in Bali. Nirwana Golf Course, and many five-star hotels around the island bear his family name.

His political skills honed to perfection during Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s  administrations in which he served twice, first as Coordinating Minister for Economy (2004-2005) and second as Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare (2005-2009).

Politics is nothing more than a sophisticated form of lobbying. If that’s true, then Bakrie is indeed someone to be reckoned with. His influence, lobbying and bargaining power are second to none. You could ask Nathaniel Rothschild for that, or Sri Mulyani, or the victims of mudflood in Sidoarjo for a confirmatory answers.


Presidential Election 2014
Jokowi will surely put corruptions eradication in public offices (you know which) high in his program. Prabowo will pursue land reform to protect the agricultural industry and Bakrie, well, only God knows what Bakrie will do if he takes office. Not many president in the world owns five-star hotels, huh? This could only means Bali will directly become his playground even more than now.

As of right now, there still some blockages in the path of these three nominee candidates to presidential seat.
Head-to-head, I guess whoever wins between Prabowo and Bakrie will be the one whose “sins” people most forgotten on the D-Day, July 9th. Prabowo, his pasts; and for Bakrie, his companies’ irregularities related to tax, the Lapindo mud flow case etc.

As of Jokowi, a different blockade awaits. Many powerful persons in the country, and even abroad, will do their best to make sure he doesn’t win (something he shares with Prabowo), or better yet , not to join the presidential race altogether. Jokowi and Prabowo will be involved in a very interesting game, in which they’ll fight for the same causes. They both have a very strong opinion toward corruption and intolerance,and thus, seen as the last bastion against corruption and Islam hardliners. It’s easy to predict that both will become target of nasty black campaigns in months to come.

Honestly, I hope to see an interesting presidential race. A change is compulsory. It’s about time Indonesia rise from the muddy water and head for the better. A president with a great vision and principle will be a great first step to walk that way. And in this case, I bet my money on Prabowo.

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