22 April 2019

To win re-election, Indonesia's president has betrayed his principles

KONFRONTASI -   

n what was once a roadside food stall in Kampung Baru, a village in eastern Java, a group of housewives is preparing food for a wedding. One shaves the last morsels of meat from a chicken carcass. Another chops vegetables while keeping an eye on a huge bubbling wok. Between chores, they happily answer questions about politics. Life in the village is slowly improving, they say. The main road has been paved and widened. One says a new health-insurance scheme has helped her pay for cold and cough medicine. Another cites a government programme which lets her get textbooks for her children. When asked who they credit with such changes they exclaim—with gleeful screeches— “Jokowi!”

Jokowi is the cognomen of Joko Widodo, Indonesia’s president since 2014. On April 17th, at the age of 57, he will be up for re-election in polls that will also see 187m voters—the third largest electorate in the world—choose between 245,000 candidates for over 20,000 national, provincial and local offices. The election commission has had to design 2,593 ballot sheets for the various combinations of contest across the country. Once these have been filled in—and 99 tonnes of ink has been used to mark voters’ fingers—ballot boxes from 810,283 polling stations will be taken off for counting by motorbikes weaving through the traffic jams of Jakarta; by speedboats on the winding rivers of Kalimantan; by wooden water-taxis in the Riau Islands; by planes in the highlands of Papua; and by horses in the poorer parts of East Nusa Tenggara.(Jft/The Econmist)

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