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After polls, Indonesia's businesses hope for smooth political transition

Jakarta Post - February 15, 2024

Deni Ghifari and Ruth Dea Juwita, Jakarta – Foreign and local businesses have expressed confidence that the results of the presidential election held on Wednesday will support a smooth political transition and continuity for investment projects.

Quick counts conducted by private pollsters after voting booths closed point to a one-round victory for Prabowo Subianto, as they suggest the defense minister secured at least 57 percent of the total vote, well above the threshold of 50 percent.

However, the official results from the General Elections Commission (KPU) will only be published in late March.

"One round is probably easier [for businesses] because it will be less disruptive," American Chamber of Commerce managing director Lydia Ruddy told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

Ruddy said a smooth transition was important in any election and a single-round decision could support that by affording the government-elect more time to prepare before taking the reins in October.

If no candidate won an absolute majority in round one, a runoff would need to be held in June, she added.

However, she noted that the political transition would play out over the coming months and that its overall smoothness was "still a question mark".

Asked about the results of the quick counts, Ruddy said the foreign business community considered all three candidates to be running on a similar platform without "huge distinctions". Therefore, "a certain extent" of continuity was expected regardless of which ticket came out on top.

Likewise, Indonesian Employers Association chairwoman Shinta Kamdani emphasized the importance of a smooth transition, regardless of who emerged as the president-elect.

She went on to say that the winning candidate would have to shore up business certainty with consistent economic policies while minimizing any politicization in the process.

Shinta said a one-round election was preferred by Indonesian businesses, since it would bring about "political stability, as well as certainty over the legal and economic direction", while a two-round event would cost the country a lot, both politically and economically.

"Market actors and investors need certainty for investment decisions and for running their businesses. Certainty minimizes the risk of capital flight and foreign capital outflow from the financial market," Shinta told the Post on Wednesday.

The Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry's (Kadin) deputy chairperson for industry, Bobby Gafur Umar, meanwhile, told the Post as quick counts were coming in that "a one-round [event] is a very good result, so [businesses] can continue developing and investing".

Similarly, Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kocham) Indonesia chairman Lee Kang Hyun said that "from an investor's point of view", it was better if the next president was elected in the first round.

"I am confident that Indonesia will achieve high economic growth and democracy no matter who becomes the president," Lee told the Post on Wednesday.

He went on to say that whoever ended up winning, the defeated candidates "will be accepted and will join forces for the development of Indonesia".

Wen Chong Cheah, a researcher with the Economist Intelligence Unit, told the Post on Wednesday that Prabowo stood for continuity and that his ascent to the presidential office would ensure progress in flagship projects launched by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration.

"Prabowo will also commit to Jokowi-era industrial policies such as downstream nickel processing and EV manufacturing. However, Prabowo's strongman personality and his military past could entail stronger crackdowns on future protests," said Cheah.

Noting that Jokowi would remain president for most of 2024, Cheah argued that the incumbent would use his remaining time in office to accelerate the projects he helmed by putting in place legislative safeguards to prevent any derailment after he steps down.

A quick count from the Jakarta-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and Cyrus Network had Prabowo and his running mate Gibran Rakabuming Raka at 58.51 percent of the total vote as of 9:07 p.m.

The pollster sampled 2,000 polling stations nationwide to come up with that result, and CSIS researcher Arya Fernandes said during a press conference in the evening, "As we have received 90 percent of vote samples, the possibility of [significant] change is very small."

The Anies Baswedan-Muhaimin Iskandar candidate pair came in second in the sample with 24.83 percent of the vote, while the ticket of Ganjar Pranowo and Mahfud MD was third with 16.66 percent.

Surveys from other pollsters yielded similar results, giving Prabowo around 57 to 59 percent.

Source: https://asianews.network/after-polls-indonesias-businesses-hope-for-smooth-political-transition