World’s third biggest democracy goes to polls to elect new leader
Roughly 190 million Indonesian voters, 67 million first-timers among them, are registered to cast their ballots on July 9, to elect a new president in the world’s third-largest democracy.
The elections are a two-way contest between former general Prabowo Subianto and Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo. The winner will take over from incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who has served out his two-term limit.
While UNDP has been supporting elections in Indonesia since 1999, its support has scaled down in recent years as the country gradually strengthened its capacity to hold elections. Indonesia’s three previous national elections are widely considered as participatory and transparent.
“This year Indonesia is capable of handling its own electoral and presidential elections, involving 190 million registered voters. I’d say that’s one of our biggest achievements - giving support and guidance to the country until it is capable to host one of the world’s biggest democratic elections,” said UNDP Indonesia Country Director, Beate Trankmann.
Election Day in Indonesia is typically festive for families with polling booths often decorated with colorful props such as balloons, and officials dressed in national garb.
“My whole family is here and even though we support different candidates, we’re coming (here) together,” said voter Lenita Sulthani after casting her ballot in Jakarta’s eastern suburb of Buaran.
“The exciting thing in Indonesia is that roughly a third of the population is below the age of 24 – a large portion of whom will be voters in the presidential elections, emerging as a new and significant voice in the country,” said Douglas Broderick, Resident Coordinator for the United Nations in Indonesia, in an interview to Devex.
With approximately 17-thousand islands spread out in three different time zones, holding elections in this archipelago nation poses a huge logistical challenge. Transporting ballot boxes to outer islands and remote areas sometimes requires days or up to a week from the capital city of Jakarta.
During elections this year, UNDP’s support has focused on gender empowerment, particularly in parliament.
With a US$1.9m contribution from the Norwegian Government and in cooperation with the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection, UNDP is helping to carry out a project called “Strengthening Women’s Participation and Representation in Governance in Indonesia.
This project helps strengthen women’s representation within parliament and improve capacity of women parliamentarians to better serve their constituents.
UNDP’s flagship Indonesian Democracy Index, published annually with financial assistance from Australia, is seen to drive the democratization process by providing critical data and analysis to inform government policies, plans and budgets.
Since 1999, UNDP has helped Indonesia draft new electoral laws and provided financial support to a massive voter education campaign reaching out to some 110 million citizens.
UNDP’s support also resulted in the first-ever nationwide quick count system in 2004 elections, and in the 2009 polls UNDP designed new procurement systems and provided support to the election commission in the procurement of election materials to ensure greater transparency.
Regional Communications Adviser
Phone: +66 2 304 9100 ext. 2133
Communication Analyst UNDP Indonesia