The vote can ignite.
Indonesia is on the edge. The ironic signal emitted by the presidential poll must be that democracy can on occasion be quite the worst casualty of the vote. Tension has been simmering in Jakarta ever since the presidential election in April.
Official results on Tuesday confirmed the victory of the incumbent, President Joko Widodo, who has won a second term with 55.5 per cent of the vote. His opponent, the former special forces commander, Prabowo Subianto, has refused to accept the result, alleging that the election was marred by widespread fraud ~ a charge that his team has yet to produce substantive evidence to support.
This refusal to concur with the people’s verdict is another dangerous trend that can only work to the detriment of the democratic engagement. In Indonesia on Tuesday, it has ignited widespread violence and arson most particulary in the capital, Jakarta, fierce clashes with the security forces, protestors throwing rocks ~ the Kashmir Valley showed the way as did Ghatal in Midnapore recently ~, and the burning of a police dormitory and vehicles.
Clearly, Subianto’s stormtroopers have gone on the rampage without confirming the fraudulence, as alleged. To reinforce the murk, “third-party provocateurs” have stepped into the scene of bloody strife. The opposition said on Tuesday it would contest the result in court, recalling a similar intitiative when Prabowo had unsuccessfully contested for President in 2014.
The crisis that confronts Jakarta’s Merdeka Palace can scarcely be settled on the streets. President Widodo has couched his warning of stern action in accordance with the law with a fervent appeal to refer objections related to the election to the Constitutional Court.
Both sides must of necessity take a call on the suggestion. Markedly, he hasn’t closed the options, assuring the beleaguered nation that the court will “assess all petitions and settle the disputes based on verified facts”. There may be hope yet in the fact that both President Widodo and his rivals want the General Election Commission’s final vote tally of the presidential election to be referred to the Constitutional Court.
It is hard not to wonder whether the violence is based on hearsay and antagonism, and thus far at least not on empirical evidence. From India to Indonesia, there is a certain inbuilt prejudice, when not hatred and intolerance, towards the other side. In Indonesia additionally, the shadow of the soldier’s gun is overwhelming. Democracy is the loser.