Ruling party heads toward easy win in Indonesia
Unlike campaign, elections peaceful
May 29, 1997
Web posted at: 9:58 a.m. EDT (1358 GMT)
From Jakarta Bureau Chief Maria Ressa
In this story:
JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- Indonesia's ruling Golkar had
over 90 percent of the vote in the early stages of the
ballot count after Thursday's general elections, election
Out of 2,566,743 votes counted, Golkar had 2,359,200, or 91.9
percent; the Muslim-led United
Development Party (PPP) had 160,083 votes, or 6.2 percent;
and the Christian-nationalist Indonesian Democratic Party
(PDI) had 47,460, or 1.8 percent. The final count probably
will not be available until mid-June.
Traffic was light Thursday on
Jakarta's main roads, their outer lanes cordoned off for
makeshift polling stations as an estimated 125 million people
cast their votes for 425 of the 500 seats of parliament.
The remainder of the seats, reserved for the military, are
appointed by President Suharto.
Elections orderly, closely guarded
Suharto, Asia's longest-serving leader, has been in power for
31 years and wields substantial power in forming the
government. In addition to choosing the military members of
the parliament, he approves or appoints another 500 officials
who with the parliament form the People's Consultative
This body, Indonesia's electoral college, chooses the next
president in March. Suharto is widely expected to be
appointed by this body for his seventh term as president.
The voting process was orderly and, with more than 130,000
police and soldiers guarding voters, relatively peaceful.
Indonesians go to designated polling places and wait to hear
their registration number called. Once his number is called,
a voter hands in his registration form. Voters in Jakarta
receive two ballots.
With the white ballot, a voter selects a party for
provincial officials. The yellow ballot identifies the party
desired for parliament. Inside are the logos of the three
recognized political parties.
Violence called sign of frustration
In contrast to the actual elections, this year's campaign was
especially riotous. Nearly 300 people died in
campaign-related violence, among them more than 130 people
killed in a mall fire sparked by rioting last Friday. And
Wednesday night in East Timor, at least 14 more were killed
in a series of armed attacks by suspected Fretilin
Some say the violence is a sign of frustration with a system
that stifles dissent and allows little room for change. Only
three parties are permitted to run -- the Muslim-led United
Development Party (PPP), the fractured Christian-nationalist
Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) and the ruling party,
Popular figures are discouraged, and in some cases banned,
from running -- like Megawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of
Indonesia's founding president. Seen as a rallying point for
dissent, she was replaced last year as leader of the PDI.
And while boycotting the vote is allowed, campaigning for a
boycott is illegal.
Some reports of vote pressure
Suharto defends Indonesia's tightly controlled political
system as essential for rapid economic development and
continued political stability.
But one woman who said she would not vote said, "I don't
think it makes any difference. I think all of the parties
are the same."
There have been numerous reports of pressure to vote for
Golkar. For those like Toto, there is no choice. "As a
government employee, I have to vote for Golkar," he said.
There is no doubt Golkar will win. The question is by how
much -- and whether it will be enough to give the government
the credibility it wants.
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