Indonesia’s gigantic combined election last Tuesday (see preview here) seems to have gone off very smoothly. Although results are not official until next month, incumbent Joko Widodo has been re-elected for a second term as president, with sample counts putting him on about 55% of the vote.
His opponent, Prabowo Subianto, has again claimed to be ahead and that the official numbers are rigged against him – just as he did in 2014, and with apparently as little justification.
Sample counts from the legislative election show the expected fragmentation in the House of Representatives, with nine parties clearing the 4% threshold, down from ten in the last parliament. The one to miss out was Hanura, the vehicle of accused war criminal General Wiranto.
The president’s party, the PDI-P, leads with around 20% of the vote, compared to 18.9% in 2014. Prabowo’s party, Gerindra, has around 13% (11.8% in 2014) and Golkar, the governing party under the Suharto dictatorship, around 12% (14.7% in 2014). So it looks as if Jokowi’s legislative position will be broadly the same as in his first term.
The difference, of course, is that he cannot run again in 2024, so Indonesian politics will now turn more towards the succession [link added].
Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right Likud party finished level with its centre-right challenger, Benny Gantz’s Blue & White, on 35 seats each (of a total 120). Likud was about 2,500 votes ahead of Blue & White, only missing out on a 36th seat by a handful of votes.
At the other end of the table, Naftali Bennett’s extreme New Right party just fell short of the 3.25% threshold, finishing with 3.22% of the vote. Eleven parties cleared the threshold, one more than in 2015.
The overall result, however, is a clear victory for Netanyahu. The right wing parties in total have 61 seats, up four on 2015, or 65 if Kulanu is numbered among them (its politics are avowedly centrist, but it is currently part of Netanyahu’s coalition).
Against them are Blue & White’s 35 seats, six for Labor (its worst result ever), four for the centre-left Meretz, and ten for the two primarily Arab tickets, Hadash-Ta’al (six) and Ra’am-Balad (four).
There will now be the usual period of bickering before the precise shape of the new government is settled, but there is no doubt that it will be dominated by Netanyahu – unless and until the pending suite of corruption charges against him come to fruition.
The second round of the Ukrainian presidential election, held yesterday, was a bit more surprising, but only for the size of the victory. Former comic actor Volodymyr Zelensky had led incumbent Petro Poroshenko by 2.7 million votes in the first round, 30.6% to 16.1%. (See my preview here.)
Zelensky was not expected to be troubled in the runoff, but the result was still impressive. With 88.6% of polling places in, he is winning by just on three to one, a lead of more than eight million votes.
There’s been a persistent strain of commentary to the effect that Zelensky’s victory – or perhaps just the fact of a hotly contested election, with its share of surreal moments – represents a gain for Russian president Vladimir Putin. But the evidence for this view is fairly thin.
Zelensky comes from the Russian-speaking east of Ukraine, but his platform was strongly pro-European and he drew support from across the whole country. He now has the opportunity to be a unifying figure, and that includes standing up to Putin where necessary. If he proves unable to do that, Ukrainian voters have shown in no uncertain terms their willingness to dispense with incumbents.
Another presidential election in eastern Europe yesterday got less international attention. The Balkan country formerly known as Macedonia, now North Macedonia, voted in a first round, with the second round to be held in two weeks time, on 5 May.
The resolution of the naming dispute with Greece has been traumatic, but it has clearly not done much to change underlying voting patterns. The two leading candidates finished almost neck and neck: Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova, of the centre-right VMRO-DPMNE, with 44.8%, and Stevo Pendarovski, of the centre-left Social Democrats, with 44.2%.
The third candidate, backed by the ethnic Albanian parties, was Blerim Reka, on 11.1%; since the Albanians are in coalition with the Social Democrats, it’s reasonable to assume that his votes will flow mostly to Pendarovski.
North Macedonia has a parliamentary system, so the president is not independently powerful. Nonetheless, incumbent Gjorge Ivanov from VMRO-DPMNE has been an irritant to his centre-left government, particularly with his hostility to the agreement with Greece, and prime minister Zoran Zaev will be hoping for better things from Pendarovski, who lost to Ivanov in 2014.
Turnout was a disappointing 41.8%; it needs to stay above 40% in the runoff for the result to be valid.