News / Asia

    After Indonesia's Surprise Election, Top Party Hunts for Friends

    People watch as electoral officials show ballot papers during vote counting at a polling station in Jakarta, April 9, 2014.
    People watch as electoral officials show ballot papers during vote counting at a polling station in Jakarta, April 9, 2014.
    Reuters
    Indonesia is set for a period of political uncertainty after an unconvincing election win by the main opposition party which will likely force it to find allies to back its candidate in a July vote for president of Southeast Asia's biggest economy.
     
    Investor disquiet at that prospect and a much tougher race to the presidency for the popular candidate of the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) took its toll on Jakarta shares which were down 3.34 percent by the close.
     
    That was about the same percentage that they jumped after the party announced last month it was nominating Jakarta governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo as its candidate for the July 9 presidential election, and whom many opinion polls before Wednesday's parliamentary election said was certain to win in July.
     
    The rupiah initially slipped but later recovered. Both shares and the rupiah are still around the highest levels since the latter part of 2013.
     
    “The next step for us is to look at which other parties we can cooperate with,” said PDI-P vice secretary general Eriko Sotarduga.
     
    “We are talking with many parties right now.”
     
    The party won just less than 20 percent of the votes in the parliamentary election, according to initial results, the biggest of any party but below a threshold needed to nominate its own presidential candidate.
     
    “It's important to say that we're not going to build a coalition just based on transactional politics, for example they give us their support and we give them something in return,” Sotarduga said.
     
    “We also don't want to build a big coalition because we've seen for the last few years that a big coalition with too many partners can be very ineffective.”
     
    He was referring to the broad coalition government of outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono which has been widely criticized for ineffective leadership and whose ruling Democratic Party saw its votes halve on Wednesday.
     
    Ten parties qualified for seats in parliament, opening up the possibility of various coalitions.
     
    “It's going to be weeks before we see any conclusive data,” said political analyst Kevin Evans, though he predicted PDI-P would be able to put Jokowi forward for president without help.
     
    The formal result of the legislative election will not be announced until early May, a little before the May 10 deadline for parties to nominate their candidates for the presidency.
     
    Some analysts said the presidential vote could be forced to go into a second round.
     
    Tough competition
     
    One party happy with Wednesday's vote is Gerindra, headed by ex-general Prabowo Subianto who also has his eye on the presidency.
     
    Prabowo is the son of one of Indonesia's most respected economists although his reputation has been tarnished by allegations of human rights abuses during his military days.
     
    The showing by his party makes him a serious contender for the top job if he manages to find support from other parties.
     
    His is the only party to have produced any substantial policy platform for lifting the economy and helping the large number of poor.
     
    “We are very confident ... We went from 4.5 percent to 12 percent. That's a 300 percent jump,” said Gerindra vice chairman Fadli Zon, referring to the party's improvement over its showing in the last election in 2009.
     
    “So it's possible that it will be a very tough competition between Gerindra and PDI-P from now on. The presidential race is definitely a two-horse race,” he said, adding he doubted the two former allies would join forces again.
     
    Most analysts say the presidential election is still Jokowi's to lose but the Wednesday vote shows his party failed to capitalize on his popularity.
     
    Though Jokowi has no experience on the national political stage, his no-nonsense style and easy approach with ordinary people has raised the former furniture businessman's profile. He is seen by many as a welcome change from the old guard of elitist politicians who have long dominated.
     
    His reputation for cutting through bureaucracy and of straight dealing as Jakarta governor has won him huge support and also encouraged investors that he would oversee more effective policy.
     
    But neither he nor his party have spelled out their policies. There is some concern that once he is in the palace, he might be too beholden to the domineering head of his party, former president Megawati Sukarnoputri.
     
    The parliamentary votes were also more evenly spread across the parties than expected, meaning a more fragmented parliament which could hamper policy in a country which is seen as repeatedly failing to live up to its economic potential.
     
    While growth is slowing, it is expected to be more than 5 percent this year. But many economists say growth is held back by weak infrastructure, widespread corruption and years of indecisive leadership.
     
    In another surprise, Islamic parties looked to have picked up more support than expected. Though Indonesia is home to the world's largest Muslim population, many analysts thought Islamic parties were on the wane because of graft scandals and the greater popularity of more pluralist parties.
    • Members of the Muslim group An-Nadzir cast their ballots during voting in parliamentary elections at a polling station in Gowa, South Sulawesi, Indonesia, April 9, 2014.
    • A member of the An-Nadzir Muslim group shows his inked finger after casting his ballot at a polling station during the parliamentary election in Gowa, South Sulawesi, Indonesia, April 9, 2014.
    • A person places a hand on a list of candidates for members of parliament at a polling station during voting for parliamentary elections in Jakarta, April 9, 2014.
    • A young girl waits as her parents vote at a polling station during the parliamentary election in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, April 9, 2014.
    • Presidential candidate Joko Widodo, front, casts his ballot next to his wife Iriana Joko Widodo at a polling station in Jakarta, April 9, 2014.
    • Armed police officers stand guard as election officials carry ballot boxes to be distributed to polling stations at a local government office in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, April 8, 2014. 
    • An election official arranges ballot boxes to be distributed to polling stations at a local government office in Jakarta, April 8, 2014.

    You May Like

    US Watching as North Korea Opens Biggest Political Meeting in Decades

    As Workers' Party Congress opens, Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora