ARTICLE: Gap Narrows between Candidates in Indonesian Presidential Elections by MAX LANE

After an extensive pre-campaign lobbying period to form political coalitions, the presi- dential election campaigning has been ongoing for three weeks. There have been three nationally televised debates between the two candidates (with each debate focusing on a specific topic) and a nationally televised “dialogue” between the presi- dential candidates and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (KADIN). There has been a flurry of activities as the presidential candidates and their spokespersons im- mersed themselves in campaigning; billboards and advertising are everywhere. It has become fairly clear what the division within the Indonesian elite is about. The two candidates, Joko Widodo (from PDI-P) and Prabowo Subianto (from GERINDRA), represent two quite different paths into the future (or back to the past) for Indonesia, but both emerge from within the Indonesian ruling elite. Widodo harks from the new regional elite that blossomed with Indonesia’s experiment with decen-tralization. Prabowo is very much tied to the old elite of the New Order and, while very wealthy in his own right, is also the brother of an extremely wealthy businessman. He is a former son-in-law of Suharto and the son of a former Suharto minister, who is also a wealthy businessman.1 At the moment, most polls put Widodo between 5% and 7% ahead of Prabowo, with between 20-30% still undecided. Widodo, although still ahead in the polls, appears to have lost the massive lead he had earlier in the year, when some polls had him at 70%. 


ARTICLE: The politics of the Indonesian Presidential elections 2014 by Max Lane

According to most Indonesian polls, former provincial businessman, mayor of Solo and governor of Jakarta Joko Widodo has lost a substantial lead to former general Prabowo Subianto in the current general election campaign. The two are now running neck and neck.

Prabowo is responsible for the kidnapping and torture of more than 20 pro-democracy activists in 1997-98. He continues to defend his actions, although he denies kidnapping 14 of those who were disappeared. He is also held responsible for a massacre and human rights violations in East Timor.

I think he has made up ground because he has repeatedly attacked the foreign domination of the Indonesian economy, claiming that it has caused massive leakage of wealth and is responsible for the poverty of Indonesia’s 200 million non-middle class masses.



Around 250,000 workers, members of various trade unions, mobilised in Jakarta for May Day, 2014. From all accounts, the mobilisations were similar to those of 2012 and 2013. The demands carried on workers banners and posters were for rises in minimum wages and the banning of the widespread labor hire practices. From the hundreds of photos on facebook, posted by workers from their Chinese made handphones, it appears that the mobilisations in Jakarta as well as other cities, were dynamic, colourful and had a strong activist atmosphere about them. It is a sign that the trade union movement which has developed during the last 15 years remains strongly organised and that worker consciousness remains form on issues relating to immediate conditions.

2014: A Turning Point?

may day 1

May Day, Jakarta, 2014

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ARTICLE: You should read Indonesia’s THIS EARTH OF MANKIND by Max Lane

POSTED ON APRIL 30, 2014 the anniversary of Prampoedya Ananta Toer’s passing in 2006.

You should read Indonesia’s This Earth Of Mankind

Max Lane

In January, 2014 Joshua Oppenheimer’s film on Indonesia, The Act of Killing was nominated for an Academy Award, reflecting its penetration into mainstream film watching. Many people will be introduced to Indonesia by this vivid study of the country’s ruling lumpen elite. Another, very different, introduction to Indonesia might be by reading Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s Bumi Manusia (This Earth of Mankind, Penguin Books). Continue reading

ARTICLE: Indonesia’s 2014 Legislative Elections: The Dilemmas of “Elektabilitas” Politics by Max Lane

On April 9, 2014, around 200,000 people stood for election to 20,257 seats in the Regional and Provincial Legislative Councils (DPRD), the House of Representatives (DPR) and the Regional Representatives Council (DPD). Of these, 6,607 candidates from 12 parties competed for the 560 seats in the DPR, while the remainder ran for the 132 seats in the DPD, the 2,137 provincial seats and the 17,560 regional seats. There are 1,344 new seats, mostly in the regional parliaments and 123 in provincial parliaments.
One week after the elections, more and more reports have surfaced of cheating during vote counting. Most of the reports are about switching counting of ballot papers for one candidate to another for money. This is possible with the bribery of election officials. Initially, complaints came from candidates who had been unable to mobilise enough supporters to be scrutinisers at the very large number of voting centres in each constituency. Their ballot papers were especially vulnerable. If those who lost votes due to cheating can document this, there may be a round of court cases disputing votes in different constituencies. It is difficult to know the extent of cheating at this time,