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Analysts: Indonesian Presidential Victory Could Change Political Landscape


Unofficial results from the Indonesian presidential election indicate a landslide victory for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The president and his opponents have said they will wait for the official results to be announced before declaring victory or conceding defeat. But independent surveys support the result and analysts are already speculating on how this victory will change the landscape of Indonesian politics.

As Indonesians wait for official results from The presidential election, analysts gathered at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Jakarta are already looking ahead. Despite claims of voter fraud from opposition candidate Megawati Sukarnoputri, they expect the official count will reflect the many independent surveys that give President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono more than 60 percent of the vote.

Although the election was not perfect, Anies Baswedan with Paramadina University says it was legitimate and the losing parties should get over it and concede, before the public sees them as obstructionist.

"Accept it. Salute the president. Move on. People respect you," he said.

He expects the losing political parties to undergo leadership changes but to contend again in future elections. But Baswedan says Islamic organizations, which opposed the president, must seriously re-evaluate their role in politics after failing to have much influence in the election.

"I think it is a historic moment in Indonesian politics in which Islam has always been seen as a major factor and today, I mean yesterday, we have seen that that is not the case," he said.

'One-man show' politics?

Nico Harjanto with the Center for Strategic and International Studies says the margin of victory and the presidential party's large number of seats in parliament will make the president, and not parliament, the center of power.

"I think in the future Indonesia will go back to the era of a one-man show politics, where the personalization and centralization of power will again happen in the hand of a president," said Harjanto.

However, he says there will still be checks and balances to the president's power. Although the president has a strong hand in parliament, he will still need to build and manage coalitions to pass his agenda.

Newspaper columnist and television public-affairs show host Wimar Witoelar says the landslide re-election signaled to the world that president's policies on foreign investment and ending corruption will continue.

"The markets went up today," he noted. "Not because he won, but because the others lost."

He says the president will also have international credibility on global issues and to advance Indonesia's moderate Muslim image.

"Now he can, together with our Barack Obama, build a new world on tolerance, on ethnic diversity and all the good things we have sought," said Witoelar.

Witoelar says President Yudhoyono's second term will be less cautious and more focused on building a lasting legacy.

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