The General Elections Commission (KPU) has set June 2 as the start of campaigning for the presidential election on July 8.
The first day of campaigning will be filled with a joint campaign by the three pairs of presidential and vice presidential candidates namely Jusuf Kalla and Wiranto, Megawati Soekarnoputri and Prabowo Subianto and Soesilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Boediono.
KPU has decided to move forward the campaign schedule following its decision to speed up the formal announcement of presidential and vice presidential candidates on May 29 from initially scheduled on June 8 or 9.
While candidates can hold both indoor and outdoor rallies at different stages of the campaign process, the televised public debates are likely to be the definitive factor in this election, all five of which have been scheduled by the General Elections Commission to take place between June 18 and July 2.
Three of these pit the presidential candidates; the incumbent Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Vice President Jusuf Kalla and former president Megawati Soekarnoputri. The other two debates involve vice presidential candidates, squaring off former Bank Indonesia governor Boediono with former Army generals Wiranto and Prabowo Subianto.
In the general election that just passed, the overwhelming win of Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party seem to secure the presidential seat for him. However, the political alliances that have formed after the general elections have altered the political odds again.
Many non-Muslims who voted for SBY's Democratic Party may not find it agreeable that he is now surrounded by Islamic parties. And the Islamic parties in the coalition are finding it hard to accept SBY's choice of Boediono. The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) is saying it cannot sell the SBY-Boediono ticket to its constituents, unless their wives wear the Islamic veil (jilbab).
Supporters of Jusuf Kalla in Golkar are divided about Wiranto, and many say this partnership is bringing back the specter of military domination - like when the party served as the political machinery of Soeharto for three decades.
Similarly, many die-hard supporters of Megawati, who voted for her Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) in April, have difficulty endorsing Prabowo, considering the role of the Special Forces that he led in the 1990s, in the kidnapping and killing of PDI-P supporters during the Soeharto years.
In an electorate as large as Indonesia’s, the televised public debates may be the best chance that voters have to scrutinize the presidential candidates and their running mates. If handled properly, these debates will allow voters to truly assess the characters of candidates, their sincerity, integrity and credibility; their mastery and knowledge of issues at hand; and their overall qualities as leaders and statesmen.
Bernama, Indonesia: Presidential Election Campaigns To Start June 2 , 28 May 2009, http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsworld.php?id=414299
The Jakarta Post, Presidential Election: It’s all down to the public debates, 30 May 2009, http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2009/05/30/presidential-election-it03...