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Harvest time in Indonesia JAKARTA - Former Indonesian security minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his advisers are moving ahead with preparations to assume the presidency, discussing policy plans and the formation of a cabinet at his home today, even though he has yet to be officially declared the victor of Indonesia's first direct vote for a head of state.
Official results from Monday's presidential elections are not due before 5 October, but the votes counted so far give Mr Yudhoyono a virtually unassailable lead on the incumbent, Megawati Sukarnoputri. The question now is whether he can deliver on his key campaign promises: to rid the country of corruption, and govern by democratic means instead of through patronage. Much will depend on whom he appoints to key posts, says Nico Schulte Nordholt, professor of Indonesian politics at the University of Twente, in this interview with Radio Netherlands.
"First, it will depend on who he appoints as attorney-general. If it is someone that can be trusted, then Mr Yudhoyono will be able to deliver. But if he comes from the ranks of the bureaucrats, then Mr Yudhoyono's words will have been pure rhetoric."
"Second, it will depend on who will be put in charge of intelligence. If Mr Yudhoyono chooses to continue with the present head of intelligence, then there is no hope. But if he really puts the position into the hands of a qualified person who will observe human rights and the rule of law, then there may be some progress."
"Whether he can do without patronage is a different matter altogether. I don't think that's feasible yet. We should be careful not to raise expectations too high, because when you look at the political system in Indonesia - which has fundamentally changed in recent years – parliamentary elections in April resulted in two big parties: Megawati's party and Golkar. Mr Yudhoyono only has 7.5 percent, i.e. about 47 seats of a total of 550. He doesn't even have one tenth of all parliamentary seats. So, in order to get legislation passed in parliament, he will have to bargain. There's no other way. But he may do it in such a clever way that parliament will not be controlled by one or two parties."
RN: "From the results of Monday's polling, it is clear that party followers have not been listening to what their leaders have been saying. Traditional Golkar voters, for instance, went ahead and voted for Mr Yudhoyono. Would you say that this is a sign that Indonesian democracy is becoming more mature?"
"No, I would put it differently. It's a sign that the Indonesian population in general recognises that there is a wind of change, and that they now, as individuals, can have their own position vis-à-vis the government. In the past, under Suharto, they were just compelled to behave according to the instructions from above. In 1999, voting was still very much influenced by charismatic personalities, which also explains why Mrs Megawati won a landslide victory at the time with 34 percent. That was because of the voting public's emotional link with Mega and her father [former president Sukarno]."
"But after three years under a government led by Mrs Megawati, people are disappointed, and in April, her party was nearly halved in what amounted to a protest vote against her rule. So, there you see that the parties' grip is no longer so strong. Also, when I visited Indonesia this spring, I heard that people now regard the elections as an opportunity to earn back some of the money that was illegally taken from them by the government in the past. They now gladly receive all the offers by the various candidates without any commitment to vote for them. Indonesians even talk about ‘the day to harvest', which in fact reflects the overall mood."



Posted in Elections @ 22 September 2004 00:03 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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