The indonesian general elections 2004
The year 2004 is crucial for Indonesia's democracy. It has held a series of elections, ending on September 20 with the final round of the presidential elections. The first election on April 5 was to elect members of Parliament (DPR), the Council of Regional Representatives (DPD) and the provincial as well as county level legislatures. Around 600 million ballots were cast that day by about 120 million voters. The election was seen by the public and the international community as democratic, fair and peaceful. This was also the case with the first and second rounds of the presidential elections on July 5 and September 20. They have helped to move Indonesia's democracy several notches higher and the Indonesian people should be congratulated for the process and the implementation. It showed a kind of maturity that augurs well for the future. Encouragingly, it has been a democratic process, where Indonesians are exerting their political right to make their choice without being influenced or feeling pressured by their social and political groupings. The voters showed their displeasure with PDI-P whose votes declined from 34% in 1999 to 19% in 2004. Recent experience also showed that personal popularity is an important factor in the election of the president. In addition, despite being the biggest Muslim country, the Muslim parties that are proponents of the Sharia got only 23% of the votes. Two out of the five presidential candidates representing Muslim organizations were eliminated after the first round. The final round on September 20 was a competition between SBY (Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono), who was the most popular candidate, and Megawati, the incumbent. She has slightly improved her image and was able to build a coalition among the three biggest parties in parliament. The competition was thought to be a close one, but in the end it showed that popularity was the more decisive factor.