MANILA, Philippines – Pemilu 2014, or the 2014 election in Indonesia, pits against each other two starkly different figures who offer different futures for the largest country and economy in Southeast Asia. (READ: Indonesia votes today: Old order or new era?)
This is only the 3rd time Indonesians are going to directly elect their president. (READ: Indonesia’s election: A primer)
Who will be the next leader of the world’s biggest Muslim population? Will it be the popular former Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo or old guard Suharto-era former general Prabowo Subianto? (READ: Indonesian election too close to call) The new president will serve for 5 years.
Analysts say this has been a battle between the old and the new. And Indonesians are heavily involved in this race – perhaps much, much more than in previous presidential polls.
The ruling Democratic Party of outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono Yudhoyono, which won 10% of the popular vote at legislative elections in April, had previously pledged to stay neutral in the election. But on June 30, it threw its support behind Prabowo, a further boost for the ex-general and a blow to frontrunner Jokowi.
The polls come at a time when Southeast Asian nations prepare for the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015 and Indonesia seeks to sustain the economic growth it has achieved in the last 5 years. The results will have repercussions throughout the region.
ASEAN and other countries with interests in Indonesia are thus keenly watching the events up to July 9. For one, the Philippines has increasingly turned to ASEAN for support against China’s expansionist moves in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), and Indonesia’s centrality to ASEAN makes the July election significant to Philippines foreign policy.
Rappler is in Indonesia to cover presidential election. (READ: Between Jokowi and Prabowo: Why should the Philippines care?)
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