Indonesia’s legislative elections, even more complex than expected

An election officer in traditional shadow puppet costume helps an elderly man vote at  in Yogyakarta (photo: the Wall Street Journal)

An election officer in traditional shadow puppet costume helps an elderly man vote at in Yogyakarta (photo: The Wall Street Journal)

On April 9th, 2014, across nearly 8,000 islands, the citizens of the world’s third-largest democracy cast ballots for over 235,000 candidates in legislative elections. The Wall Street Journal called it “a massive logistical undertaking”. In this complex environment, none of the parties won a strong enough lead to run a candidate in the July presidential race (based on an election-day quick count).

The People’s Consultative Assembly of Indonesia (MPR-RI), the legislative branch of the national government, is made up of 1,000 seats in two houses. Currently members represent 9 different political parties. Today’s elections will determine the members of this legislative body. Importantly, for any party to put forward a presidential candidate, it must first secure at least 20 percent of the seats in the Assembly. If a party cannot reach the threshold, it must form a coalition to run a candidate, normally selecting a vice presidential running mate from an allied party.

In my last post I explained that three presidential hopefuls have stepped forward so far in 2014. Each of those candidates’ parties hoped to secure enough seats to nominate a candidate unilaterally, but none succeeded. Even Joko Widodo’s party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), which media had suggested might win as much as 30 percent of the popular vote, fell shy of the threshold. According to the Jakarta Post, with this election over, political coalition talks will begin just after midnight on April 10th.

Here are the results of today’s elections according to the quick count, with reference to each party’s proposed presidential candidate:

  1. 19%, Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Joko Widodo (the popular Jakarta Governor)
  2. 14.4%, Golkar Party, Aburizal Bakrie (the billionaire businessman)
  3. 11.9 %,  Gerindra Party, Prabowo Subianto (the former military general
A woman dips her finger in ink after casting her vote during the legislative election at a polling station under the toll road in North Penjaringan, North Jakarta, on Wednesday ( Photo: Jakarta Post)

A woman dips her finger in ink after casting her vote at a polling station under the toll road in North Jakarta, on Wednesday (Photo: Jakarta Post)

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