If you’re an Indonesia citizen, a lot.
If you’re an expat or regular visitor, a lot.
Your blog correspondent has been around for all of Indonesia’s Presidents, from Sukarno the Great Leader of Independence from the Dutch, to Soeharto the Father of Development, through a few others, all the way to President SBY, who hasn’t made much of a name for himself, to be honest.
In all the previous elections, it was pretty much a big yawn feast. It was clear who’d win, it was clear there wouldn’t be a great deal of change or difference in governance.
This year it is different. A close race between Jokowi, an unknown “man of the people” and former mayor of the city of Solo and then Jakarta and so thrust into the limelight, and Prabowo, a former general from Soeharto’s time, and in fact Soeharto’s son-in-law (now divorced).
I don’t know much about Jokowi except what I read in the papers and see on TV. He is famous for his random visits to everyday places and talking to ordinary people. I know considerably more about Prabowo. He is an authoritarian figure. A very authoritarian figure who by his own admission made student activists disappear. He does not have delusions of grandeur. There is nothing delusional about him. If he were to become president, he would be a very grand president indeed. In this presidential campaign of 2014 he started out as underdog months ago but he’s been trained in psychological warfare and he’s put together a brilliant campaign that has closed the gap and divided this country in a way I’ve never seen before.
Those who want a Man-of-the-People who works together with them, vs. those who want a Strong Leader.
The Prabowo team has taken a lesson from the US presidential elections, where the right wing spread slander and innuendo that Barrack Obama was a foreigner and a secret Muslim. The Prabowo team is spreading slander and innuendo that Jokowi is Chinese and a secret Christian. Pretty ironic, the symmetry reversal there.
Prabowo has taken the FPI under his wing. These are the fundamentalist zealots who want you to live under sharia law.
Just that alone…