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Intel Brief: Indonesia’s Presidential Election





Date: 22/02/2024


Who’s involved:

  • Prabowo Subianto, Anie Baswedan, Ganjar Pranowo


What happened?

  • On 14/02/2024, Indonesia held a presidential election. Prabowo Subianto declared victory with 58% of the vote, against the next candidate Anies Baswedan with 25% of the vote and Ganjar Pranowo (17%). 


  • The next president-elect, Subianto, is a controversial figure. As the former Defence Minister under previous president Joko Widodo (Jokowi) he won a majority in a country of 275 million people. Subianto established himself as a senior military commander in Suharto’s New Order, Indonesia’s corrupt and violent military administration that ruled the country between 1967 and 1998. He has been accused of prosecuting mass disappearances, torture and extensive human rights violations during the dictatorship.


  • On 12/02/2024, hundreds of Indonesian students and activists in Yogyakarta on Java island staged a protest against Jokowi’s tacit endorsement of one candidate over another, which they claim weakens Indonesia’s democracy. More protests have been conducted in opposition to weakening of human rights in the country. 


  • The worsening of the security situation in West Papua, where a guerilla insurgency pushing for independence has emerged well armed and better resourced. As the conflict between Indonesian security forces and the insurgency have intensified, the group has been willing to abduct foreign visitors. 


Analysis:


  • Protests around Indonesia are likely to continue against Subianto. The previous government’s authoritarian legislation has resulted in protests, the largest of which took place in 2019, seeing one month of civil disobedience and rioting around the country. The election result will also be contested. In the Indonesian legislature, the opposition candidates in the election have also called for a probe into the election, which they claim was weakened by fraud and voter intimidation. While the country remains broadly stable, there is a risk of further unrest. 


  • Prakowo Subianto is likely to continue Jokowi’s mixed legacy on the economy and a slide toward authoritarian values. For Indonesia’s economy, Jokowi managed steady economic growth of 5% over the past 10 years. He constructed extensive infrastructure projects through roads, airports and further connections between Indonesia’s over 17,000 islands. However, this has accompanied massive corruption at the same time and significant differences between the many islands of Indonesia. On the other hand, Indonesia has fallen behind other manufacturing exporters of Vietnam and the Philippines. 


  • Security challenges also include an armed Papuan separatist group in West Papua where the guerilla insurgency pushing for independence has emerged well armed and better resourced. The escalating violence in Papua New Guinea sparked by land grabs and exacerbated by imports of high-powered weaponry is also raising security threats in West Papua. Kidnap remains a present risk to the east of the country, with the New Zealand pilot held captive by insurgents to pressure New Zealand for negotiations with the Indonesia security forces on autonomy for the region.  


  • Indonesia will continue to chart an independent foreign and security policy and continue to emerge as a significant power in Southeast Asia. Subianto has indicated he would upgrade ties with Japan, as the country supplies military aid to South China Sea claimants like Vietnam and the Philippines. Under Jokowi, Indonesia has followed a policy of non-alignment, recognising the realities of China’s dominance while balancing with Australia and the United States. At the same time, Subianto’s tendency toward authoritarianism could push his foreign policy away from the west to avoid criticisms of his record on human rights. 




Conclusion


Prabowo Subianto’s election to the presidency has been marred by allegations of voter fraud, and misuse of public funds prior to the general election. Further civil protests against the result are likely in the coming weeks and the result is likely to remain disputed by opposition leaders. There will likely be a weakening of human rights legislation in the country, as Subianto has shown little interest in respecting the rule of law or civil society. He is likely to draw criticism from the US due to his growing authoritarianism but is unlikely to become push back against China in the South China Sea, unlike President Marcos Jr. in the Philippines.



 

20240222 Indonesia's Presidential Election
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