Sunday, July 5, 2009

Megawati goes under cover in rural Indonesia

Politicians love being all things to all men, particularly at election time.

With more than 170 million Indonesians set to go to the polls on Wednesday, it was interesting to see the different faces presented by Megawati, the main challenger to the incumbent president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY).

In the liberal, downtown areas of Yogyakarta, posters of Mega showed her without her head covered, a secular leader for all Indonesians, regardless of religion.

In the more Islamic Javanese countryside surrounding Yogya, the same posters showed her with her head covered like any good, devout Muslim.

But her spin doctors' best Photoshop efforts are unlikely to make much difference as most polls predict that SBY will be a shoo-in, taking 60% of the votes.

Having seen the man speak at the ADB annual conference in Bali back in May, it's easy to understand why he is so likely to win.

What's more interesting is the speed with which democracy seems to be maturing in Indonesia. Firstly, this election year is likely to draw to a close without any major violence. Secondly, as this article explains, all the candidates are moderates, advocating a similar mix of anti-corruption rhetoric and economically liberal policies with a dose of populism thrown in.

Consensus, it seems, is king in one of the world's most populous and most diverse countries. That's no bad thing.

1 comment:

  1. Will she carry the Christian vote in Ambon, the Hindu vote in Bali?