Indonesia’s Prabowo all but declares he’ll become ‘Suharto 2.0’ if elected


Almost overnight, Indonesia’s July 9 presidential election has transformed into a contest over the very future of democracy in the world’s fourth-most populous country.Indonesia Flag

Prabowo Subianto, the nationalist leader of Gerindra (Partai Gerakan Indonesia Raya, the Great Indonesia Movement Party), has narrowed what, just last month, was a double-digit deficit to become Indonesia’s next president. Polls suggest that the lead Jakarta governor Joko Widodo (‘Jokowi’) once enjoyed has narrowed or dissipated altogether.

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RELATED: Will Prabowo Subianto become Indonesia’s next president?

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But as Prabowo’s campaign has gained so much momentum over the past month, he’s becoming even more explicit about his views on democracy — and those views aren’t incredibly positive, according to remarks Prabowo (pictured above) made over the weekend:

[Prabowo said] elites presume that Western ideas such as one man, one vote and direct elections for provincial and national leaders are the best on offer. “Even though they’re not appropriate for us. Like direct elections — we’ve already gone down that path. But it’s like someone addicted to smoking; if we ask them to stop, the process will be difficult,” Prabowo said.

“I believe much of our current political and economic systems go against our nation’s fundamental philosophy, laws and traditions, and against the 1945 Constitution,” he said. “Many of these ideas that we have applied are disadvantageous to us, they do not suit our culture,” Prabowo said.

The 1945 constitution, it’s worth noting, is the founding document that allowed the rise of Sukarno, Indonesia’s first post-independence leader (who conveniently dismissed the country’s parliament and often invoked ‘temporary’ emergency rule), and the rise of Suharto, the strongman who reoriented Indonesia away from Soviet influence and toward a slightly more liberal path between the 1960s and his overthrow in 1998. It allows for the president to declare emergency rule, thereby suspending typical constitutions protections, provides for an indirectly president by the Indonesian legislature, and it precedes the constitutional amendments of the post-1998 regime that have greatly decentralized power from Jakarta to Indonesia’s provinces.

Though Prabowo hasn’t expressly said that he’d like to end direct elections in Indonesia, he’s made enough statements dismissing democracy and other ‘Western ideas’ that it’s worthy of concern.  Continue reading Indonesia’s Prabowo all but declares he’ll become ‘Suharto 2.0’ if elected