Indonesia: Widodo Wins a Second Term as President


By Joseph Adams, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 30 April 2019,




According to exit polls the result of the Indonesian Presidential and General election was the return of Joko Widodo as President. Likewise could his party – the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PPI-P) – and his coalition of 9 other, mainly Islamist parties, keep their role as the dominant coalition bloc in the new parliament.


With the power of the incumbency and a massive outpouring of votes from his fellow Javanese making the greatest difference, Joko Widodo appears to have outpaced rival Prabowo Subianto in Wednesday’s highly anticipated presidential election in Indonesia. Quick count results and exit polls, both of which have proved accurate in the past, showed President Widodo with a lead of 9-10 percentage points (55-45%) after a peaceful campaign where the intertwined issues of religion and identity politics were major factors among Indonesia’s 193 million eligible voters”. [1]


Although the exit polls have proved reliable in the past, Widodo’s main challenger, the retired General Prabowo Subianto, is challenging the result .It is not clear what his reasons are but they have thrown the result into some question. The situation will not be clear until the election commission announces the result in May.


“Despite being 10 percentage points behind more than a quarter into the official count, presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto still won’t concede defeat in Indonesia’s April 17 election, raising the specter of post-poll instability. Analysts are of two minds on whether Prabowo genuinely believes he was the victim of massive electoral fraud, or if he is instead angling for major political concessions from President Joko Widodo in the formation of a new government”. [2]




No alternative for the workers and poor




Indonesia is the fourth populous country in the world and a major Muslim country. It is a collection of islands adjacent to Malaysia and mainly composed of Java and Sumatra and other small provinces. Because of its geological position Indonesia suffers from extreme flooding, tidal waves, earthquakes and tsunamis. Recently Indonesia suffered from humanitarian disasters resulting in the deaths of many people. The urban poor were especially hard hit as they can only afford to live in wooded shacks which are close to possible tsunami’s and face being homeless and without anywhere to live.


The election was fought out between two capitalist bourgeoisie politicians – the incumbent President Widodo and the retired General Prabowo. For the workers and poor there were no political alternatives. No workers party stood at the election not did any party advocate even a minimum reformist program to improve their standing of living or to propose socialists measures in a very unequal society where the richest people own the large proportion of wealth. Most of the parties contesting the general election were Islamist parties heavily influenced by reactionary Muslim clerics who didn’t criticize the conditions of impoverishment and inequality but only advocated a move towards a Sharia government comparable to the reactionary ruling clique in Saudi Arabia.




Human rights abuses still remain




Widodo during his election campaign promised reforms particularly where there were human rights abuses but commentators have showed that little has changed. Widodo remains in alliance with the army and reactionary Muslim clerics.


“Anyone who entertained the idea that Widodo would re-open a slew of unresolved Suharto-era human rights cases were also to be disappointed, especially when he had to call on military support in an early conflict with the police leadership. Now, with loyalists at the head of both the military and the police, something that became an important comfort blanket with the challenge from the religious fundamentalists, critics complain the security forces have become increasingly partisan


When Jokowi came to power in 2014, he did so articulating nine priorities, a program he called the Nawa Cita. Among them was a promise to resolve past human-rights injustices. His pledge held out the prospect of at least acknowledging, if not addressing, decades of army abuse, authoritarian overreach, and suppression of minority rights. In a part of the world often beset by a form of moral relativism—Our country is fine; others are worse—it appeared to be a significant step forward. Little tangible progress has materialized, though. While Jokowi has not been directly linked with any human-rights infractions, his presidency has been characterized by a lack of improvement on the issue (rights groups would go further, saying he has in fact presided over a worsening of conditions). An inquiry into an attack on an anti-corruption investigator has gone nowhere; Jokowi’s administration has walked back suggestions that he would formally apologize for a decades-old government massacre; and it has declined requests from international bodies to visit a restive region that wants independence. Though Jokowi now says he wants to address past injustices, human-rights advocates are downbeat about the prospect that he will follow through. And this election has little chance of yielding change: The incumbent is ahead in the polls, and his lone challenger has an even worse track record.” [3].


Since the beginning of the Suharto dictatorship in 1967 socialists and communists have been banned, hunted down and killed. The Communist Party of Indonesia was the biggest communist party outside of the former Soviet bloc until its demise by the Suharto regime rule which left it destroyed and most of its cadres dead.


“Indonesia has a long history of trampling on individual rights. Its first leader, Sukarno, was initially a forceful advocate for liberty as he led the movement that eventually won the country independence, but over his time in power he made more and more authoritarian moves (at one point, he made himself Indonesia’s president for life). Sukarno was eventually ousted in a military coup led by Suharto, a general and someone who, like his predecessor and many other Indonesians, goes by only one name. Suharto’s decades-long authoritarian rule began and ended in violence: In a tumultuous period between 1965 and Suharto finally capturing power in 1967, huge numbers—estimates vary from hundreds of thousands to 1 million—of Communists and suspected Communists were killed, and his resignation in 1998 came in the face of mass demonstrations and riots that left hundreds dead”. [4]


The RCIT advances a program of revolutionary struggle which advocates democratic and economic slogans and combines them with a transitional program. We emphasize that liberation is only possible if the capitalist class is expropriated and the repression apparatus smashed by a workers and poor peasant government opening the road towards socialism.


* Against all forms of corruption and human rights abuses. For a workers enquiry to investigate the crimes against the working class and the poor.


* Expropriate the capitalist elite! Nationalization of the banks and big business under workers control so that operate for need and not for profit.


* For a Revolutionary Constituent Assembly where democratic decisions are made by directly elected delegates from all parts of Indonesia representing the wishes of the working class and the poor. All delegates to be elected and to be directly accountable to the electors and removed if necessary.


* For workers defend guards to be elected to defend local communities and assemblies from provocation and state attacks.


* For the formation of a revolutionary workers and poor peasant government.


* For the building of an Indonesian section of the RCIT. Join the RCIT and help to build the World Party of the Socialist Revolution – the 5th International.