Former Suharto-era general Bambang Susilo Yudhoyono and former Golkar official Yusuf Kalla have been elected as president and vice-president in the second round of Indonesia’s first direct presidential election. Yudhoyono won 61% of the vote against outgoing President Megawati Sukarnoputri’s 39%.
Neither candidate offered Indonesian workers a voice in politics. Around 33 million registered voters did not vote at all and several million more did not bother to register. This is significant given that it was the first direct presidential election, won after the defeat of the Suharto dictatorship in 1998. Activists have reported that absenteeism was concentrated in the cities, reflecting the contempt for the political class.
Yet every day there are strikes, occupations and demonstrations by workers, peasants and other sectors, reflecting the growing unemployment, poverty and insecurity of life in Indonesia.