Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world, elects a new president

The most populous Muslim majority country with over 279 million people, voted on February 14th, to elect the 72 year old, former General, Prabowo Subianto, as the Indonesia’s next president. Many regard the result as surprising given the relative young age of the voting population – 52% are under the age of 40. His election is also surprising given both his known ties to the former dictatorship regime of President Sukarno and his support of the populist policies of the outgoing president, Joko Widodo – who is alleged to have been involved in human rights abuses during his time in the army.

Prabowo Subianto secures 60% of the vote and avoids a run-off

According to a collection of exit polls and ballots, Prabowo Subianto has managed to secure more than 60% of the vote. The final tallies from over 820,000 polling stations will not be formally announced for weeks. Subianto’s closest rival was former Jakarta governor, Anies Baswedan, who was only able to achieve 25% of the votes cast.   Ganjar Pronowo,  former governor of Central Java, placed third with 20 % of the vote.  As he achieved more than 50% of the vote, Subianto manages to avoid a run-off – which would have taken place in June. The election gives his premiership, the authority over more than 20,000 public officials. There have been allegations of fraud and suggestions that fundamental election procedures have been violated, but these seem to have been largely ignored.

Victory speech declares a commitment to ‘all Indonesians regardless of ethnicities, religions, social backgrounds’

Delivering what amounts to a victory speech in the Jakarta stadium in front of thousands of jubilant supporters, a humbled Prabowo Subianto , attempted to pacify all those who had not voted for him and had supported his opponents. He expressed gratitude at the level of support he and his running mate, Gibran Rakabuming Raka had received and said:

‘Prabowo-Gibran and our coalition will embrace all elements…We will lead, protect and defend all Indonesians regardless of ethnicities, religions, social backgrounds’

Indonesia has moved on from 40 years of authoritarian government to become a beacon of modern liberal democracy

Indonesia is the world’s third-largest democracy and has successfully held 5 presidential and legislative elections since the overthrow of the dictatorship in 1998. Indonesian’s have lived under a collection of authoritarian regimes since the imposition of martial law in 1959 and what President Sukarno at the time, defined as a ‘Guided Democracy. President Sukarno charged that Western-style democracy was ill suited to Indonesia’s culture and dynamics and he imposed a system which drew on the more traditional village system of discussion and consensus, overseen by village elders. A coup in 1966, introduced ‘a New Order’ under President Sukarno, which gave increasing power to the military, introduced controls and restrictions on political and societal organisations and saw the widespread repression of political opponents.

The overthrow of the last authoritarian government in 1998, has seen Indonesia thrive as a beacon of modern liberal democracy. Indonesia’s population of 270 million people includes a diverse range of communities including 1,300 different ethnic groups, which now play an active role in government having been subject over many decades to authoritarian rule and police state governorship.

Indonesia’s national parliament has 580 seats, with a record proportion of 22% of the seats held by women as at 2022. It enjoys an emerging market economy, achieving the accolade of being one of the largest economies in Southeast Asia.


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