INDONESIA is probably the closest friend to us Filipinos in terms both of people-to-people and government-to-government relations.
It is our original partner in creating the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). It is the world’s third biggest democracy and the biggest Muslim nation.
Indonesia is a huge economy. It is Southeast Asia’s largest economy. It is a member of the G-20 group of nations, another one of those international groupings seeking to be a bellwether for the rest of the globe. G-20 is a mix of the richest and the most promising of the emerging economies.
Since the ouster—after ruling for more than 30 years—of President Suharto in 1998, Indonesia has been blessed with a slow but successful journey to full electoral democracy. This is Indonesia’s 3rd democratic direct election to choose a president.
It held its presidential election last Wednesday. And the final results, after the counting and canvassing in that country’s much larger archipelago than ours, will be known from the equivalent of our Comelec only on July 22.
These results are being awaited with some anxiety by the government and private sector leaders of our region and the key Western countries.
Crucial to Asean economic success
How Indonesia fares economically is one of the determinants of how the Asean will fare as a primary engine of global growth in the next years and decades. Indonesia’s advance will help us Filipinos prosper. Our economic relations with Indonesia are mutually profitable.
How Indonesia does politically—whether it continues to be the stable democracy that it has been since 1998—is in turn a determinant of how Indonesia will continue to fare economically. So we Filipinos should be concerned about this matter. The least we can do is pray that no development pulls back Indonesia from its democratic development.
This election has been the closest presidential one ever. Using exit polls and unofficial tallies, both contenders–Jakarta governor Joko Widodo and his rival, former general Prabowo Subianto—could justly predict victory.
More than 130 million ballots are being counted and collected, with the official result announced 10 days from now.
Both camps have sent hundreds of thousands of monitors to watch the ballots’ and taken every move in a country where, like here in the Philippines, vote buying and bribery is rampant.
Most analysts believe that Widodo, known by his nickname Jokowi and seen as a more definitive break from the Suharto era, probably got more votes by a small margin. But his rival Subianto has better machinery, more rich and powerful friends, including his former military associates and men, to be able disrupt governance and cause instability by refusing to accept the poll results.
But if he loses, and is egged on to make trouble, Widodo could also mount an armed protest.
At least eight polling agencies showed Widodo leading Subianto by between two and seven percentage points. These are probably accurate. Most of these survey institutes in Indonesia have accurately predicted the results of the country’s national elections since 2004, including last April’s parliamentary polls.
Even after the election commission announces the result, the loser can challenge it, and analysts say either candidate who is the loser will likely do so.
Constitutional Court challenge
Any challenge will go to the Constitutional Court, which must declare a winner by August 24, ahead of the inauguration of a new president in October.
The worst-case scenario following a decision by the Comelec or Court is the outbreak of a violent protest.
May the poll count have a happy and peaceful outcome, with the loser gracefully accepting defeat and the winner magnanimously willing to work with the defeated party for the people’s unity and prosperity.