April 11, 2013
The 2014 election is heating up as political parties prepare to unveil candidates for national elections next year. Parties have a 13-day window, through April 22nd, to register candidates for seats in the House of Representatives (DPR).
The list will be finalised after verifications and adjustments in late August, according to the General Election Commission (KPU) in Jakarta.
All 560 seats in the DPR are up for grabs on April 9th, 2014, and parties that fare well will have the momentum heading into presidential elections in July.
The political scene is already rife with speculation about the country's next leader, after ten years with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the helm. The winner will be Indonesia's seventh president and only the second chosen by direct election.
Refining the process
Indonesia has been striving to make its democracy more representative, and less unwieldy, since the country's first free election in 1999, when 48 parties entered the fray, followed by 24 in 2004 and 34 in 2009.
Only 12 parties are eligible to compete in national elections this year, under new regulations requiring parties to have at least 1,000 members in every district of the country, to nominate candidates for the DPR.
The KPU announced in January that only ten parties qualified, but two more were added after mounting successful legal challenges. Of the 12 parties, seven are secular and five are Islam-based.
The electoral law also requires that 30% of a party's national and regional candidates be women, a quota parties find difficult to meet, but which has gradually increased female representation in politics.
High hopes for the future
More than 30 public figures have been named as potential presidential candidates. The definitive slate will not be known until parties form coalitions and nominate candidates after the April 2014 legislative elections.
Leading names include tycoon and Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie; former president Megawati Sukarnoputri, head of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P); and former general Prabowo Subianto, founder of the Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra).
The long and diverse list also includes First Lady Ani Yudhoyono; Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa; up-and-coming Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo; former vice president Jusuf Kalla; and Army Chief of Staff Pramono Edhie Wibowo, the president's brother-in-law.
Voters have high hopes for their next leader, citing corruption, education, security and social harmony as chief concerns.
"What I want in the election is an honest and loyal leader. I want a political leader who is not corrupt and is willing to keep us secure from any threat, especially terrorism and radicalism," Agus Sigit, a member of the Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), told Khabar Southeast Asia.
"We have had enough of uncertainty and economic struggling. We passed over it after 1997 crisis. We just need to move a little bit faster, especially on education and technology," said Abdullah Hamid, a 45 year-old Jakarta resident.
"We are behind our neighbours such as Malaysia and Singapore. In the past, around the 1960s-1970s, many Malaysians and Singaporeans came to Indonesia to study and now they are ahead of us."
Mardiyanto, a 53 year-old Islamic cleric in Central Jakarta, hopes the 2014 election will bring people together. "We need a leader who is aware of the diversity in our country, the various religions and ethnicities. We need somebody who can bring us together – no more violence and radicalism," he said.