A very multi-party Indonesia

I’m in today’s Crikey with a wrap of the Indonesian legislative election (see my preview here), drawing particularly on a seminar held at Melbourne University last night. There are no official results yet, even provisional ones, but everyone seems happy making comments based on the “quick count” of sample polling places, reported, for example, at Kompas.

The main points to take away, it seems to me, are as follows:

  • The Indonesian Democratic Party – Struggle “won” in the sense of coming out ahead, but fell well short of expectations. Getting its candidate, Joko Widodo, elected as president might not be quite as easy as it thought, although there’s no doubt he’s still the favorite.
  • The parties associated with the authoritarian past and would-be military strongmen – Golkar, Gerindra and Hanura – are strong enough to show that a lot of demons from the Suharto era remain unexorcised. With some 32% of the vote between them (up about 9% on 2009) they will continue to wield influence.
  • The four “Islamist” parties also showed surprising strength, arresting their previous downward slide to pull in just under 30% in aggregate. But most observers seem to think that the likelihood of them effectively pooling resources is fairly small.
  • This is still very much a multi-party system: there look like being ten parties represented in parliament, up one from last time, despite attempts by the government to make party registration more difficult. As I say, “whoever takes the top job will be well short of a legislative majority, and coalition-building will remain the order of the day.”

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