On Wednesday July 9, Indonesia’s estimated 187 million eligible voters will head to the polls for the country’s third direct presidential election.
With the incumbent leader ex-general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono already having served a maximum of two five-year terms in office, voters are obliged to inaugurate a brand new president.
An enormous turnout is expected this year, as rival candidates Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo and Prabowo Subianto go head-to-head in one of the most closely contested electoral battles in the country’s history.
As of this week, Jokowi remains the favourite to win. But his lead over the self-styled strongman Prabowo Subianto is currently looking more precarious than ever.
Recent polls put Jokowi in front with only a scanty 3.4% lead over Prabowo, who has launched a comeback of historic proportions in recent months, rapidly chipping away at Jokowi’s previously comfortable lead of almost 30 percentage points back in March this year.
The margin of victory for this year’s winner will be tight, and the magnitude of the result no doubt even greater.
For readers of Asian Correspondent who haven’t been following the Indonesian election thus far, now is definitely the time to get on board. With just one week to go until voting commences, we are sure to see much in the way of controversy, absurdity, and comedy, as befits the spectacle of a landmark archipelago-wide election. Look out for the election primer that will appear on this blog in the coming days.
In the meantime, Asian Correspondent would like to recommend the following list of prolific Twitter personalities currently focusing on the Indonesian election race, each of whom who will be tweeting their expert insights and keeping us up to date over the coming week or so.
In no particular order, here are some key accounts to follow:
@saraschonhardt: Sara Schonhardt is a reporter and editor for the Wall Street Journal’s Southeast Asia Realtime blog. Her material is informative and accessible —perfect reading for any latecomer to the Indonesian election race.
@hbrown10: Helen Brown is a Jakarta-based journalist working for Australia’s ABC News network. She tweets regular updates about the presidential candidates’ campaign politicking and related events.
@benjaminbland: Benjamin Bland is the Indonesia correspondent for the UK Financial Times, and also vice-president of the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club. He conducted an interview with Prabowo Subianto over a lunch at the Four Seasons Hotel earlier in the campaign season, the findings of which still make for a wonderful read almost a year on.
@philjacobius: Philip Jacobson is a writer for Indonesia’s popular Tempo magazine and a former journalist at the Jakarta Globe. He tweets about the election regularly and shares lots of material taking a critical look at Prabowo Subianto.
@AubreyBelford: Aubrey Belford is Reuters Special Correspondent for Southeast Asia. He is currently based in Bangkok but has previously spent many years reporting from Indonesia. He tweets regularly and often shares material that sheds light on Prabowo’s controversial human rights record.
@IndoNewMandala: No doubt familiar to readers of Asian Correspondent, New Mandala is a Southeast Asia news and comment forum, hosted by Australian National University. Their “Indonesia Votes” blog publishes regular articles by big name political scientists and other notable observers on the ground. Regular updates on electoral politicking are also shared through the New Mandala Twitter account.
@Gammonator: Liam Gammon is a PhD candidate at Australian National University, focusing on populist politics in Indonesia. His tweets are amusing and insightful; he also contributes to New Mandala’s “Indonesia Votes” blog.
@electionwatch_: The University of Melbourne’s “Election Watch” project—currently focused on Indonesia—brings together high quality electoral analysis from a range of academics, policy analysts, students, and alumni of the school.
@_DaveMcRae_: Dave McRae is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute. He often retweets material from “ElectionWatch,” as well as other recommended reading and his own insightful analyses.
@sidneyIPAC: Sidney Jones is the director of IPAC (Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict), based in Jakarta. She often shares lots of election-related material, as well as her own musings.
@andreasharsono: Andreas Harsono is a Havard alumni and a researcher for Human Rights Watch Indonesia. He is based in Jakarta and tweets frequent updates on the election in English and occasionally in Indonesian.