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Campaign Season for Presidential and Legislative Elections Starts

Sunday marks the beginning of the campaign season for next April’s presidential and legislative elections. Some 187.1 million Indonesians are eligible to vote, according to the General Elections Commission (KPU).

The updated figure was tallied after the KPU removed more than 670,000 names from a preliminary list of voters following complaints of duplicate names in its registry, it said in a report out on Sunday.

Previous local reports had quoted the Elections Supervisory Agency as saying it had found some 2.9 million duplicate names in the voter list, prompting the KPU to conduct a clean-up of the electoral roll for the April 17 polls.

As campaigning kicks off, all eyes will be on the contest between President Joko Widodo and his old rival, former general Prabowo Subianto.

Jokowi has picked as his running mate Islamic cleric Ma’ruf Amin, who has a doctorate in economics, while Prabowo is going with Jakarta Deputy Governor and former businessman Sandiaga Uno.

The 2019 elections will be the first time that Indonesians will pick their president and MPs on the same day.

Following the fall of strongman Suharto in 1998, reforms to Indonesia’s electoral system were introduced to prevent a single dominant party from holding power.

Under the law, political parties need at least 20 percent of the seats in Parliament, or a 25 percent share of the popular vote, before they can nominate a presidential candidate.

The ruling Indonesian Democratic Party – Struggle (PDI-P) currently holds 109 seats, or just under 20 percent of the seats.

Golkar, the second-largest party after the PDI-P, has 16 percent. Gerindra, chaired by Prabowo, has 13 percent and the Democratic Party, 11 percent.

Golkar is part of a nine-party coalition led by the PDI-P that is backing Jokowi and Dr Ma’ruf, while the Democrats are one of the four parties that proposed the Prabowo-Sandiaga ticket.

Observers have said that while the President remains ahead in popularity polls, rising religiosity could threaten his re-election bid.

Voting patterns, however, may change with the introduction of new parties and younger voters.

Almost half of the voters across the country will be 35 years old or younger come Polling Day.

The seven-month campaign is expected to kick off with a bang this weekend, with both presidential and legislative candidates set to hit the ground running.

Many Indonesians also look forward to the debates which are likely to take place later this year.

Hot-button topics include the economy and other local bread-and-butter issues.

Jokowi has struggled to deliver on his promise of 7 percent growth when he defeated Prabowo in 2014, although the economy has been growing at a steady 5 percent each year since he took office.

Amid the global uncertainty, the Indonesian rupiah has depreciated to its lowest level since the 1998 Asian financial crisis. It is down about 9 percent against the US dollar this year, making it the second-worst performing Asian currency after India’s rupee.

Jokowi’s rivals have already fired the first salvo, taking aim at his administration’s economic policies and expressing concerns over the weak rupiah .

Source: Straits Times

Photo courtesy of Jakarta Post/Swi

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