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Finally a win

Jakarta Post Editorial - February 15, 2024

Jakarta – In the end, it wasn't even close. For those who expected the presidential poll to be decided in two rounds, the result, based on the quick count method conducted by a number of pollsters, was a continuation of a trend prevailing since 2009 that presidential elections finish after a single round.

With almost all of the quick count results putting the figure at around 58 percent, Wednesday's win was a decisive one for Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto. For the 72-year former military general, the third time was indeed the charm.

Yet, somehow the result should not surprise anyone who paid even scant attention to the whole election process.

The victory came despite a massive outcry, particularly from activists, academics, university students and a large swath of the middle class, who raised the alarm over alleged improper conduct by the incumbent government of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in trying to influence the outcome of this election.

It was widely reported that the state apparatus, from members of the National Police and the Indonesian Military (TNI) to village heads and the civilian bureaucracy, had all been given the order to canvass the vote, support political campaigning and ensure victory for Prabowo.

And then of course there was the massive use of government resources in the form of the cash assistance program, social aid, cheap rice and the opening of new infrastructure projects to win the hearts of voters, especially in rural parts of the battleground provinces of East and Central Java.

Early in the nomination process for the presidential ticket, we also saw a blatant effort to change the rules of the game, to amend the 2017 General Elections Law, to allow for Jokowi's son Gibran Rakabuming Raka to run alongside Prabowo.

There were sporadic efforts to challenge the alleged election interference. Only days before the Feb. 14 balloting, an independent filmmaker released the documentary film Dirty Vote, exposing an alleged systematic effort by the incumbent administration to rig the election and deliver a victory for Prabowo.

With the documentary racking up more than 10 million views in three days, there was a feeling the pendulum could swing the other way.

But in the end, only 41 percent of the electorate, the combined votes for the Anies Baswedan-Muhaimin Iskandar and Ganjar Pranowo-Mahfud MD tickets based on the quick count results, rejected efforts to interfere with the free and fair election process.

More than 58 percent of the electorate has apparently voted to allow for the continuation of President Jokowi's agenda, with the bonus of having a strongman leading the country for the next five years.

The next step for Prabowo, especially once he assumes power, will be to prove his critics wrong, that instead of an anti-democratic politician, he can be a consensus builder and a compassionate leader with a stable character, the kind the country needs as it navigates the turbulent world that we live in today.

In the past, Prabowo has made comments antithetical to democracy, including once claiming that Indonesia was not ready for democracy.

Indonesia's experience with democracy in the past quarter century has allowed for the entrenchment of democratic norms and institutions, despite all the efforts in the past 10 years by his soon-to-be predecessor President Jokowi to dismantle these.

Things have changed in the past 25 years and now democracy is the only game in town and Prabowo should play by the democratic rules, instead of trying to bury them.

After all, now that the presidency is within his grasp he must realize that he could only have got this far through the democratic process.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/opinion/2024/02/15/finally-a-win.htm