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Southeast Asian Affairs 2005 INDONESIA The Year of a Democratic Election Leo Suryadinata The 2004 general election in Indonesia began on 5 April with the parliamentary election and ended on 20 September with the second round of the presidential election. This was the longest election that the country had ever witnessed and a marked success in Indonesia's quest for democracy as it was conducted in an orderly and peaceful manner. This chapter examines both parliamentary and presidential elections and their significance for Indonesian politics; the formation of the new cabinet; and the problems faced by the new Yudhoyono administration. It also looks at the tsunami disaster and Indonesia's foreign relations with special reference to military relations between Indonesia and the United States. The 2004 Election: Another Victory for Democracy1 The 2004 election differed from the 1999 election in the sense that this was the first direct presidential election. Unlike the last election at which the president was elected by the MPR (People's Consultative Assembly), this time the people directly elected the president. In 2003, the Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat (DPR, House of Representatives, the Indonesian parliament) completed the debates on the presidential election bill, concluding the discussion regarding the 2004 election. All laws and regulations regarding the parliamentary and presidential elections were passed. The parliamentary election — for members of DPR, Dewan Pimpinan Daerah (DPD, Regional Representatives Council) and Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Daerah (DPRD, Regional House of Representatives) — was to be held on 5 April 2004, while the presidential election would be conducted in two phases, the first round would be on 5 July 2004 and the second, on 20 September 2004. Leo Suryadinata is Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore. 1 34Leo Suryadinata More than 200 political parties registered to take part in the 2004 elections but only 24 parties were qualified to contest, including 6 leading parties which had taken part in the 1999 election: the Partai Demokrasi Indonesia-Perjuangan (PDI-P), Partai Golkar, Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa (PKB), Partai Persatuan Pembangunan (PPP), Partai Amanat Nasional (PAN) and Partai Bulan Bintang (PBB). The electoral platforms of these six parties were very similar. Economic, educational and social problems were the main concerns ofthe voters. Unemployment and corruption were highlighted. Every party addressed these issues in general terms. Interestingly, syariah law was not raised as a major election issue as most Muslim voters were more concerned with their daily needs rather than this controversial Islamic issue. Prior to the April 2004 election, many observers had focused on the two major parties: the PDI-P and Golkar. These two parties, despite internal conflicts, still commanded the resources to garner votes. Because of various scandals that rocked the PDI-P and perceptions about Megawati's weak leadership, there was a general expectation that the PDI-P might receive fewer votes in the 2004 election. But Golkar, which was also rocked by scandals, was able to ride on the "nostalgia" of the population. In addition, despite the end of the New Order, Golkar's machinery was intact and the party was reportedly "rich". General elections are an expensive business and a party with considerable wealth is likely to win more votes during a parliamentary election. Many observers predicted that no party would emerge dominant as the vote would be divided among many parties, with Golkar and the PDI-P getting the lion's share. Many predicted that Islamic parties would not become dominant in the April 2004 election despite the growth of Islam in the last decade. In fact, in 1999 the combined vote for the Islamic parties was about 17 per cent. If the PKB and PAN were added to the category of "Islamic parties", the combined vote was about 37 per cent. In 2004, the combined vote of five Islamic parties were 21 per cent, a bit higher than in 1999.2 If the PKB and PAN were added to the category, the combined vote was about 39 per cent, indicating that the voters still preferred a secular rather than an Islamic state. The results of the 2004 parliamentary election were not surprising, except for the rise of two "new" parties: the Partai Keadilan-Sejahtera (PKS, the Prosperous...


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