Indonesian polls seen as Jokowi's to lose
INDONESIA'S election season kicked off yesterday with the promise of a fresh style of leadership for the world's third-largest democracy, whose economic potential has been dulled by rampant graft, confusing policy and weak rule.
The election outlook took a surprising turn on Friday when the main PDI-P opposition party named the hugely popular governor of Jakarta as its candidate for July's presidential election. The move boosted even further its chances of dominating the parliamentary election on April 9.
Opinion polls suggest the presidency is Governor Joko Widodo's to lose, with old-style contenders ex-general Prabowo Subianto and tycoon Aburizal Bakrie trailing far behind.
A hint of the euphoria attached to the nomination of the charismatic Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, could be seen in the 3.2 per cent jump in Jakarta share prices that followed the announcement.
"(It was) driven by sentiment that Indonesia will have a good president who is willing to take difficult decisions, who has a good and clean historical track record... and most of all, an expectation of a smooth transition of power," said Dr Wilianto Ie, research head at Maybank Kim Eng in Jakarta.
The presidential election will be Indonesia's third direct one since it tumbled into democracy 16 years ago amid the social and economic chaos that followed the downfall of former dictator Suharto.
The outcome of the parliamentary election, in which nearly 190 million Indonesians are registered to vote, will be critical because parties that win enough votes to meet the required threshold will be eligible to field a candidate in the presidential election.
The ruling Democrat Party of outgoing president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, restricted by the Constitution from seeking a third term, has seen public support ratings plummet to single digits since graft scandals tarnished senior officials, including the party's former chairman and a Cabinet minister.