On 9 July, Indonesians will elect a new president. Among the favourites is Prabowo Subianto, an ex-general with authoritarian ideas. The country is at a turning point. A dossier
© Reuters/Sigit Pamungkas
When the 190 million Indonesians entitled to vote choose a new president on 9 July, it will be the third direct presidential election since ex-dictator Suharto’s resignation in 1998. This event will decisively set the country’s direction.
If Suharto’s former son-in-law, ex-general Prabowo Subianto, wins, it could mean a step backwards into the times of dictatorship, believed to be long overcome, for the young democracy. Prabowo defines himself as a nationalist who takes action and is assertive. He is accused of being responsible for numerous human rights abuses during his time as general – and even of carrying out torture. He recently stated that direct elections do not fit with his country’s culture and that the political system needs to be fundamentally reformed.
Since taking office as the governor of Jakarta two years ago, Prabowo’s opponent, Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, has built a reputation for his approachability and his pragmatism. He is supported by Megawati Sukarnoputri – president of Indonesia from 2001 to 2004 and daughter of the first Indonesian president, Sukarno – and her party. Jokowi and Prabowo are currently in a neck-and-neck race.
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