A controversial ex-military man and son-in-law of Suharto, favorite in the Indonesian elections

Indonesia prepares to give the presidency to General Suharto’s son-in-law less than three decades after an admirable democratic transition buried the ignominious dictatorship. Prabowo Subiantoa 72-year-old retired soldier and current Minister of Defense, comfortably leads the polls and the only doubt is whether he will get the absolute majority this Wednesday or will need the second round at the end of June.

Will be your third try After previous defeats against the outgoing president, Joko Widodo, better known as Jokowi, who is retiring after a decade in office. Prabowo, married to a daughter of Suharto, has been accused of various violations against human rights and in 1998 he was expelled from the Army by the kidnapping and torture of pro-democracy activists. The candidate has always denied the charges and has made efforts to smooth over his tough-guy image. His rhythmic movements at campaign events are celebrated and few remember his outrages during the dictatorship or that, in democracy, he challenged his defeats before the Constitutional Court. His campaign has worked: youthwho did not suffer his father-in-law and will be decisive in the elections, sees him as a champion of democracy and an endearing dancing grandfather, no matter how much human rights organizations remember his murky past and warn of the danger.

Indonesian electoral laws require 50% of the vote and 20% in at least half of the 38 provinces to grant victory in the first round, and otherwise mandate the second. Polls indicate that Prabowo borders on that threshold. His investiture is a matter of time because his two opponents do not exceed 20% of the voting intention. Ganjar Pranowo, former governor of Java province, ruined his chances by closing the country’s doors to the Israeli soccer team. They have not yet forgiven the leader of the Democratic Party-Fight for Indonesia losing the organization of the U-20 World Cup. He has always penalized the poor charisma of Anies Baswedan, former university rector and former governor of Jakarta. Nobody disputes his achievements in managing the pandemic or the air train that has mitigated the capital’s endemic traffic jams, but his old ties with the city are worrying. radical Islam.

Legacy of the outgoing president

The elections will bury the Jokowi era, alpha and omega of Indonesian politics in the last decade and architect of a remarkable transformation. He has watered the archipelago of infrastructure necessary, approved a universal health insurance and contributed to the coexistence of different religions. It has not met the promised annual growth of 7% but 5% has made the Indonesian economy one of the most vibrant in Southeast Asia.

Jokowi retains his popularity despite the fact that academic and civil society sectors criticize the erosion of democratic values. It is paradoxical that he was received as a breath of fresh air compared to traditional dynasties and now struggles to build his own. Prabowo’s presumed victory will have been contributed by the fact that he has Jokowi’s son as second in his candidacy, Gibran Rakabuming. He is running in the elections after a constitutional court chaired by Jokowi’s brother-in-law changed at the last minute the rules that prevented him from doing so because he did not meet the minimum age.

Criticism of his goings-on has discouraged him from giving explicit support to Prabowo, which the presence of his son on the ticket and the candidate’s stubborn claims as the continuator of his work make it unnecessary.

The elections of the third democracy in the world and of the country with the largest Muslim population. USA and China They add decades courting a critical archipelago in the balance of forces in Southeast Asia. Its massive exports of coal, Palm oil either nickel They balance the country’s trade balance but punish the environment and hamper the global fight against climate change. Environmental protection is one of the biggest concerns of a young electorate (almost half of voters are under 40 years old) along with corruptionthe poverty wave lack of work. That dictatorship is very far away from them.

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