Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Election 2009: Lessons Learned

Now that we've had some time to digest the numbers - 'quantitative analysis,' they call it in the investment world - we can draw some conclusions from the recent Indonesian elections. And perhaps the biggest surprise of all was that there was no real surprise.

President SBY's party came out on top, an event predicted by most polls in the runup. What wasn't quite as foreseen was the significant slump borne by the main opposition parties, like Golkar and Megawati's PDI-P. Late in election seasons most populations shift back to the status quo instead of the great unknown, and this time was no different. But the sub-20% showings were particularly crippling.

No wonder it looks like Megawati is reaching out to former Gen. Prabowo Subianto as a running mate, desperate to glean any possible support. But unless a political earthquake arrives in short order, SBY looks to cruise to victory.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Election 2009: It's he-ere!

It seems like the buildup has been forever- although not quite as long as the interminable American version - but the elections are finally imminent. Glory glory hallelujah.

Consensus is that the party of the generally inoffensive SBY will prevail, although polls have been fairly close in recent weeks. The 'Intelligence Unit' of the venerable Economist magazine predicts as much here, although noting that he'll be under rising pressure in coming months thanks to a global economy that's been brought to its knees.

The electoral process will likely be a messy event, given the huge population and the thousands of far-flung islands we're talking about. But let's have a glass-half-full moment, and appreciate the fact that Indonesia has evolved from a longtime dictatorship to a thriving democracy within a few short years. Not many countries in the world can pull off such a jarring transition - witness Russia, which has backslid to the times of yore - but Indonesia has. In that spirit, hats off to the victors, whoever that turns out to be.

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

And the winner is ... Megawati's party?!

Heed well the old children's fable of the tortoise and the hare. Because with just a week to go before the general elections, a new poll bombshell has Megawati's party pulling ahead.

For months President SBY and his Democratic party have been mopping the floor with rivals in most polls. But this survey by the Strategic Centre for Development and Policy Review has the party of Sukarno's daughter - noted for her particular fondness for cooking and gardening, not so much for her policy brilliance - ahead by a half-point, with SBY's cohorts second and Golkar a close third.

All of them, crucially, fall short of the 20% barrier to nominate a presidential candidate on their own. So may the horse-trading begin in the nation's political backrooms, because it looks like we're in for some delicious chaos. That's democracy, in all its beautiful messiness.

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