Democracy in Action in Indonesia

Explore Bali | Written By, Alistair G. Speirs |

Welcome to crunch month, when the country decides who will lead it for the next five years. The debates are over, the pollsters are making money – sorry – predictions and forecasts, everyone has become an expert on government, on the economy, the leaders, the powers behind the thrones, the spouses behind the powers, the backers behind the spouses, and even the other experts! It’s election time!

What a wonderful change has taken place over the years since I came here. Direct elections were not on the agenda forty years ago, when the party in power had the temerity to predict their margin of victory well in advance, and surprise surprise, used to attain that margin almost to a decimal point! Now there is genuine open voting, monitored and audited, with people (mostly) un-coerced and free to choose their preferred candidates. It is really marvellous, well nearly!

Now the debates, the party manifestos, the real values, the information available and so on may be a little “light” but there is a genuine choice, as long as you don’t get fed any of the astonishing nonsense fake facts that are being hawked about, some so ridiculous as to be a joke – except people believe them! And to be honest the stories going around in other “bastions of democracy” are often equally bizarre but more likely to be true!

Now it’s down to personal pulling power of every candidate at every level, it’s down to the memory of every voter as he or she goes in to vote, to remember what their candidate stands for and whether or not he was in prison for corruption at some point! Then it’s up to the counters, the monitors, the election committees and the whole process to present us with the next period’s President, Vice President and members of parliament at every level. Good luck Indonesia. May the best candidates win!

After the election is over another part of the community celebrates the crowning moment of their religion: Easter, commemorating the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We wish all members of the Christian Community here in Indonesia and around the world, a joyous Easter, and peace and goodwill to all.

And it is very much thanks to the state ideology Pancasila, that Christians are free to worship alongside all the other recognised religions. It is certainly a reason why Bali’s rich Hindu culture has been able to thrive. Thank you to the founding fathers of the nation for this, and perhaps in keeping with this, the new regional leaders will finally resolve the many challenges faced by Christians and other minorities throughout the archipelago, as they take up their new offices. That is certainly democracy in positive action. 

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Alistair G. Speirs

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