Widodo predicted to be re-elected as Indonesian president


Widodo predicted to be re-elected as Indonesian president

Peter Symonds

16 April 2019

Indonesian elections will be held tomorrow, not only for the presidency, but also, for the first time, simultaneously for the national parliament as well as provincial and local governments. The elections, now held every five years, involve carefully vetted candidates backed by rival factions of the ruling class, none of whom represents the interests of the working class and rural poor.

The contest for the presidency epitomises the limited character of the election. Joko Widodo, a former small businessman, won the presidency in 2014 by posturing as a “man of the people” who would help working people. He was backed by former president Megawati Sukarnoputri and her Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). His vice-presidential running mate was Jusef Kalla, a senior figure in Golkar, the political instrument of the Suharto dictatorship.

In one of his first actions as president, Widodo abolished fuel price subsidies—a regressive measure that hit the poorest sections of the population the hardest through increased fuel and transport prices. The decision was a clear signal to international finance capital that Widodo would meet its demands for massive infrastructure spending and pro-market reforms.

Widodo’s opponent in tomorrow’s election is Prabowo Subianto, whom he defeated in 2014. Prabowo is a former son-in-law of the dictator Suharto and a notorious ex-special forces commander. That Prabowo is standing for the presidency and is not in jail for his crimes, underscores the fact that the military and state bureaucracy remain a powerful behind-the-scenes force two decades after Suharto was forced to step down.

As he did in 2014, Prabowo is basing his campaign on…

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