Tag: election

More than 300 election workers in Indonesia die of exhaustion

At least 287 polling station workers and 18 police officers have died mainly from exhaustion and illnesses associated with overwork after Indonesia’s elections this month, officials said Monday.

The world’s fourth-largest country held the legislative and presidential elections in a single day for the first time on April 17, but the high death toll prompted public calls for the polls to be held separately. 

“So far, 287 election workers across the country have died and 2,095 have fallen ill,” said Arief Priyo Susanto, spokesman for the General Election Commission.

“The main cause of the deaths is exhaustion and some accidents and illnesses caused by exhaustion,” he added.

The electoral commission said a total of 150 workers died from similar causes during the 2014 presidential and legislative elections, which were held three months apart. 

More than seven million workers were involved in what many experts described as the world’s largest and most complicated single-day election, with voting and vote-counting conducted manually. 

Nearly 193 million Indonesians were eligible to vote, with the turnout estimated at 81 per cent.

Voters elected a president, 575 members of the House of Representatives, 136 members of the Regional Representative Council and almost 20,000 members of local legislatures.

Officials said holding the elections simultaneously was a cost-saving measure, but it has proved to be a massive logistical challenge to distribute ballot papers and ballot boxes across the far-flung archipelago. 

National police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said 18 officers also died from working long hours during the elections. 

The government has promised to provide compensation of up to 36 million rupiah (2,500 dollars) for surviving families.

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Prabowo tells pollsters to move to Antarctica as he rejects unofficial election results

Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto on Friday accused pollsters of lying after unofficial counts showed he lost this week’s election to incumbent President Joko Widodo, telling them to move to Antarctica.

Prabowo has rejected the so-called quick counts, released by private pollsters from samples of polling stations, that give Joko an 8-percentage-point lead over Prabowo.

“Ladies and gentlemen, do you trust fake pollsters?” Prabowo asked more than 1,000 supporters gathering outside his house in south Jakarta.

The crowd responded in unison: “No!”

“You cheating pollsters may be able to lie to penguins in Antarctica, but Indonesia doesn’t want to listen to you anymore,” Prabowo said.

Supporters gathered outside Prabowo’s spacious house and chanted religious songs after Friday prayers.

Quick counts have proved accurate in predicting winners in past Indonesian elections.

But Prabowo said that actual votes at more than 300,000 polling stations showed him leading with 62 per cent.

Prabowo said Thursday that he had won the presidency and urged his supporters to monitor the official vote count to stop cheating.

“We are declaring our victory early because we have proof that there have been various attempts at fraud in many villages, sub-districts, districts and cities across Indonesia,” he said.

Official results will not be announced until later next month. 

He made a similar claim of victory in 2014 after unofficial counts showed that he lost narrowly to Joko.  

Joko, for his part, said that he had “99 per cent” confidence in the quick count results pointing to his victory.

Indonesia’s armed forces chief, Air Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, warned that any unrest would be dealt with sternly. 

“We will not tolerate and will take stern action against attempts to disturb public order or unconstitutional acts that undermine the democratic process,” he said. 

Prabowo declares victory, claims fraud attempts by opponents after Indonesian election

Indonesian President Joko Widodo appeared set to win a second term after this week’s election, according to unofficial counts, but his rival declared victory and claimed widespread attempts at cheating.

Unofficial tallies from Wednesday’s presidential election put Joko on track for a second term with a 8-point lead over former general Prabowo Subianto.

The quick counts from a sample of representative polling stations put Joko ahead with around 54 per cent, while Prabowo trailed on 46 per cent.

Such counts have proved accurate in predicting past election winners in Indonesia.

But Prabowo rejected the unofficial tally and claimed that counts of actual votes at more than 300,000 polling stations showed him leading with 62 per cent.

He remained defiant on Thursday, claiming victory once again and accusing his opponents of trying to rig the election.  

“Today I, Prabowo Subianto and Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno, declare our victory as president and vice president of the Republic of Indonesia for the period of 2019-2024 based on more than 62 per cent of our real vote calculation,” Prabowo told a news conference at his house.

“We are declaring our victory early because we have proof that there have been various attempts at fraud in many villages, sub-districts, districts and cities across Indonesia,” he added.

He made a similar claim of victory in 2014 after unofficial counts showed that he lost narrowly to Joko.  

Joko said he had received congratulations from Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on the successful election. 

Plans by Prabowo’s supporters to hold a rally in central Jakarta on Friday to celebrate victory have raised fears of unrest. 

But Indonesia’s armed forces chief, Air Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, warned that security forces were “ready to maintain security and stability.” 

“We will not tolerate and will take stern action against attempts to disturb public order or unconstitutional acts that undermine the democratic process,” he told a news conference on Thursday. 

Quick counts from the legislative election showed Joko’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) leading with around 20 per cent. 

Gerindra, the party of opposition presidential candidate Prabowo, came second with nearly 13 per cent. 

Both parties carry nationalist platforms. 

Official results will not be announced until later next month. 

Sixteen national political parties contested 575 seats in the national parliament in Wednesday’s legislative election.

About 193 million people, including 80 million people born after 1980, were eligible to vote, according to the General Elections Commission.

Turnout was 81 per cent, an increase from 70 per cent in 2014, according to security minister Wiranto.  

Some voters in Papua, the country’s easternmost province, were scheduled to cast their ballots on Thursday after election supplies were not distributed on voting day.

Jokowi: No longer a political outsider

When Joko Widodo was elected president in 2014, he was hailed as the first Indonesian leader with no ties to the country’s military and political elites.

Now, Joko is seeking a second term as president in Wednesday’s election with the support of political parties with the most seats in parliament and several former generals with ties to the country’s autocratic past.

Joko grew up in a poor neighbourhood in the Central Java town of
Solo, where his father worked as a carpenter, according to his
official biography.

He helped his father with work after school and sold home-made snacks
to supplement the family’s income.

Critics say his family was actually middle-class and owned a
furniture business, and that the story of his humble beginnings was
played up to appeal to voters.

Jokowi, as he is better known, graduated with a degree in forestry
management from Gadjah Mada University, one of the country’s best,
and later started his own furniture business.

He was elected mayor of his native Solo in 2005 and again in 2010,
developing a reputation as a proactive leader with a common touch.

His folksy style has endeared him to regular people.

In 2012, he was elected governor of Jakarta after promising to
tackle the city’s perennial problems, including chronic congestion
and flooding.

He did not solve either, but did kick off two major public
transportation projects in his constituency, and was praised for
streamlining the bureaucracy and providing free health care for the
poor.

As governor he frequently visited Jakarta’s poor neighbourhoods and
talked to residents, a practice that has become known locally as “blusukan.”

The story of his humble beginnings and simple lifestyle appears to
resonate with ordinary Indonesians.

Joko’s account of his life is a departure in Indonesian politics,
where it was previously unthinkable for someone from a humble
background to become even a party leader.

A heavy metal fan, Joko has been seen at several concerts and
mingled with fans at gigs.

But Joko is not without critics.

His promise for a departure from politics as usual remains largely unfulfilled.

After being elected in 2014, he filled his cabinet with officials from political parties that supported him, despite a promise not to be beholden to vested interests.  

Opponents have accused him of engaging more in ceremonial activities than actual governing during his first term in office.

He frequently jets to remote parts of the far-flung archipelago to inaugurate projects.

Analysts and rights groups say he has allowed human rights, respect for the rule of law and the protection of minorities to deteriorate during his firm term.

“Law enforcement has become politicized, with government critics arrested and jailed on questionable charges,” said Ben Bland, an Indonesia expert at Lowy Institute, an Australian think tank.

But the married father-of-three remains the most popular politician in Indonesia.

Recent polls suggested that he had a comfortable two-digit lead over his opponent, former general Prabowo Subianto.

From social media to parliament: Young Indonesians enter politics

 The political views of Indonesian millennials used to be limited to social media posts, but now the youth are taking charge by seeking parliament seats in their country’s upcoming election.

Univesity student Tsamara Amany Alatas is a social media star who often voices critical views on issues ranging from gender equality to religious freedom.

Now the 22-year-old has thrown her hat into the political ring, vying for a seat in the national parliament in the legislative election scheduled for April 17.

Like any media-savvy politician running for office, she has visited slums and talked with locals about their aspirations and posed for photographs with babies.

“I believe politics can be a force for good when people who are elected are good,” the 22-year-old told dpa during a recent visit to a central Jakarta slum.

Tsamara is one of the young legislative candidates fielded by the newly-established Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI), which claims to be the bearer of progressive politics in a largely conservative nation.

The party,which backs incumbent President Joko Widodo, is led by 36-year-old former television newscaster Grace Natalie, a Christian of Chinese descent in mainly-Muslim Indonesia.

The party has an uphill battle, with polls indicating it is unlikely to win more than 1 per cent of the vote, which would be short of the 4 per cent threshold required by Indonesian electoral laws to get seats in parliament.  

Poll numbers, however, have not discouraged Tsamara, who has nearly 170,000 followers on Twitter.

“This party represents the values I’m fighting for and it’s where people with idealism are,” she said.

Lucius Karus, a researcher with the Indonesian People Forum for Parliament Monitoring, said that 21 per cent of candidates whose ages are known are categorized as millennials, meaning they were born after 1980.   

Nearly 8,000 candidates are competing for seats in the 560-member House of Representatives. 

Lucius said even though women account for 40 per cent of legislative candidates – exceeding a quota of 30 per cent set by electoral laws – it’s not likely they will be elected.

“Many young or female candidates are listed on the bottom on their parties’ lists on ballot papers, and candidates on top of the lists are usually well known and more likely to be elected,” he said.

Currently, about 20 per cent of national legislators are women.

British-educated engineer Faldo Maldini is another millennial running for a parliamentary seat.

The 28-year-old is a spokesman for opposition candidate Prabowo Subianto and is a deputy secretary general of the National Mandate Party.  

“I represent the young generation, but I talk to old and young people alike about their problems,” Faldo told dpa on the sidelines of a campaign stop in a village outside Jakarta.

“You can be famous on social media but if you don’t go to your constituents, they won’t vote for you,” said Faldo, whose Twitter account has more than 88,000 followers.

Sitting cross-legged on the front porch of a villager’s house in Bogor, a city south of Jakarta, Faldo appeared at ease talking to the elderly host, who complained about unpaved and potholed roads in front of his house.

“People here complain that despite many factories around here, jobs are going to people from outside, and prices of basic commodities are expensive,” he said.

“My focus is how I can help young people here get jobs,” he added. 

Faldo said he wants to prove that running for office does not have to be expensive.

“I’m not from a rich family and I just got married, so clearly I don’t have much money,” he said.

“I want everyone to have a level playing field so it’s not only people with money who can run for parliament,” he said.

Didi, a voter in Bogor, praised Faldo’s plan to promote entrepreneurship in his village.

“I make dolls and after he promoted my business on Instagram I received a lot of orders from different places,” he said.  

Ari Nurcahyo, executive director at local think tank Soegeng Sarjadi Syndicate, said the fact that many young people aspire to be politicians is good for Indonesia’s future.

“They are technologically literate and highly educated. We need people like them to face the digital economy era,” he said.

“But they need a new political party that isn’t beholden to oligarchic interests and care about issues such as anti-corruption,” Ari said.

Ross Tapsell, an expert on Indonesian politics at the Australian National University (ANU), said only a small number of Indonesian millennials are middle-class and politically savvy.

A survey released last year by ANU found that fewer than 10 per cent of millennials living in Jakarta and the surrounding areas had a university degree.

“The usual depiction of a millennial is someone who is inner city, on Instagram, active about politics in social media,” Tapsell said.

“In fact that’s really only a small proportion of what a lot of people aged between 17 and 35 are actually doing in this election,” he said.

Jokowi Remains Favorite One Month Before Indonesian Election

Incumbent President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is still the frontrunner one month before Indonesia’s presidential election, with the most recent surveys indicating that he is favored by more than 54 percent of voters.

Four surveys released this month put Jokowi’s electability at between 54 and 57 percent, compared to around 34 percent for the opposition candidate, former general Prabowo Subianto.

About 11 percent of voters were still undecided, according to the surveys.

A poll released on Sunday by the private pollster Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC) predicted that Jokowi would win 57.6 percent of the votes if the election were held now.

“The gap between Jokowi and Prabowo continues to widen,” SMRC director Djayadi Hanan said.

“Is it going to change in one month? We don’t know,” he added.

Rising conservatism

Next month’s election is a rematch of the 2014 contenders. That year, Jokowi beat Prabowo narrowly.

Jokowi picked Ma’ruf Amin, the conservative 76-year-old chairman of the Indonesian Council of Muslim Scholars (MUI), for his running mate, apparently aiming to bolster his religious credentials amid accusations from hardline Islamic groups that he is hostile to them.

Islamist groups such as the Islamic Defenders’ Front (FPI) have rallied around Prabowo in their short-term goal to prevent Jokowi from being re-elected, but they are unlikely to succeed, said the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) in a report released last week.

“Their support for [Prabowo] is conditional and half-hearted, but measures taken by the Jokowi government to try to weaken, co-opt and stigmatize them as extremists have only strengthened what otherwise would be a fragile alliance,” IPAC said.

“Their fear of a Jokowi victory is much stronger than their reservations about Prabowo,” it said.

While Ma’ruf has moderated his comments to appeal to more liberal voters, the Prabowo camp has sought to portray its vice presidential pick, Sandiago Uno, a wealthy 49-year-old businessman educated in the United States, as a pious Muslim.

“The idea of Prabowo as a strongman and Sandi, the charming, pious entrepreneur as his right-hand man, embodies two trends in Indonesia: nostalgia for the Suharto-led New Order and rising conservatism of the middle class,” IPAC said.

VP candidates face off

During a televised debate between Ma’ruf and Sandiaga on Sunday, the two avoid engaging in heated arguments on key policy issues.

Ma’ruf peppered his talk with Arabic and Islamic phrases to impress conservative religious voters during the debate, which focused on education, health, employment and culture.

Sandiaga sought to appeal to younger voters by emphasizing his entrepreneurship prowess, but also tried to demonstrate his knowledge of Islamic terms while showing reverence to his rival by calling him kyai, a Javanese honorific for a Muslim cleric.

It was the third in a series of televised debates involving presidential and vice-presidential candidates ahead of the election.

“Leaders must work for the benefit of their people,” Ma’ruf said in his opening speech.

“Our vision is for Indonesia to be an advanced nation. The key to achieve this lies in its people, a population that is intelligent, productive and has good morals,” Ma’ruf said, using an Islamic term, “akhlaq.”

Ma’ruf said that if he and Jokowi were elected, the government would establish a national research council, build a Sydney-style opera house to show case Indonesia’s arts, and provide free training for job seekers.

“We will conserve our culture and we will globalize our culture so that it becomes known and developed,” he said.

Ma’ruf said wider internet coverage had allowed the country to produce more business startups and “unicorns,” a term for companies with capital valued at U.S. $1 billion or more.

Sandiaga for his part promised that a Prabowo-Sandiaga government would solve problems that have dogged the country’s national health insurance scheme; provide incentives for research; and require foreign workers to master the Indonesian language.

“Stories like that of Ms Lies who had to stop treatment because she had no coverage must not be allowed to happen, even more so when we’re going to be among the world’s five biggest economies in 2045,” Sandiaga said, referring to a cancer patient he met while campaigning.

“Health workers must be paid on time. Drugs must be paid on time. There should not be long queues for patients,” he added.

Indonesia introduced universal health coverage in January 2014, with the aim of having all Indonesians covered by 2019.

But the agency that administers the national insurance scheme, BPJS Kesehatan, has grappled with a deficit of 16.5 trillion rupiah ($1.2 billion).

Sandiaga’s promise to require foreign workers to master Indonesian appears to be intended to allay concerns among some Indonesians about the perceived influx of Chinese laborers amid Jokowi’s focus on building infrastructure.

“There was no debate where one candidate argues and the other attacks the arguments,” Idil Akbar, a political analyst at Padjadjaran University, said of the encounter.

Wasisto Raharjo, a researcher on politics at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, said Sandiaga appeared to be reluctant to argue strongly against Ma’ruf due to the latter’s stature as an elderly cleric.

“There was no constructive debate where the candidates correct each other. Maybe Sandiaga was too reverent with Ma’ruf,” he said.

“But Sandi was good at using catchphrases that resonate with many people, such as the issue of foreign workers,” he added.

Ma’ruf was instrumental in the jailing last year of former Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian, on charges of blasphemy.

Conservative Muslim groups held large protests against Ahok in 2016 and 2017 in the run-up to a gubernatorial election in which he was a front-runner, after an edited video made it appear like he said that the Quran deceived people.

An MUI fatwa declaring Ahok’s remarks blasphemous bolstered Muslim opposition to him and paved the way for his prosecution.

Ahok lost the Jakarta gubernatorial election to a Muslim candidate, Anies Baswedan, and was later sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy. He was released in January.

The article was originally published on http://www.benarnews.org/english

Russia denies meddling in Indonesian election

Russia on Monday denied involvement in attempts to influence the outcome of Indonesia’s upcoming election, after incumbent President Joko Widodo accused the campaign of opposition candidate Prabowo Subianto of spreading “Russian propaganda.”

The Russian embassy in Jakarta said the accusations of Russian involvement – levelled by Jokowi during a campaign stop in Surabaya on Saturday – had “no basis in reality.” 

“We would like to underline that our principled position is that we don’t interfere in the domestic affairs and electoral processes of other countries, including Indonesia as our close friend and important partner,” the embassy said via Twitter.

During the campaign stop, Jokowi claimed that “there is a campaign team that is spreading what is called Russian propaganda, which involves incessant streams of lies and slander.” 

He was alluding to the controversy in the United States about the supposed Russian interference in the 2016 election using a propaganda model called “the firehose of falsehood.”

Jokowi faces former general Prabowo in the April 17 presidential election in a repeat of the vote five years ago, which the president won by a narrow margin. 

The opposition says the president has a dismal economic record after nearly five years in office and that he is too cozy with China.   

Jokowi has picked conservative Islamic cleric Ma’ruf Amin as his running mate in a move seen by some as an attempt to bolster his religious credentials amid accusations that he is hostile to Muslim political aspirations.