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Jakarta Post

Congrats with postscript

  • Editorial Board

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, May 29, 2019   /   09:07 am
Congrats with postscript Five more years: President-elect Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is accompanied by running mate Ma’ruf Amin as he delivers a victory speech to residents of Johar Baru in Central Jakarta. (JP/Seto Wardhana )

A week after the General Elections Commission (KPU) confirmed his reelection through the official vote count, incumbent President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo received an extra boost in confidence from the stream of congratulatory messages from world leaders near and far.

The widespread recognition of “the world’s most complicated election” by superpowers and allies of all shades could not have come at a better moment, as the nation nurses its wounds from the hundreds of election officials who perished in the line of duty and postelection rallies that briefly descended into violence last week.

From the United States and China, ASEAN neighbors and key partners in the Indo-Pacific order, to the leaders of the European Union, the Arab League and the D8 Group of Developing Countries, these messages came at a critical time for Jokowi, as the rival camp of Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno seeks to delegitimize the election results through last-resort measures.

Prabowo and company are accusing the elections commission of “structured, systematic and massive” fraud — almost a play-by-play of his previous challenge of the 2014 election results — but the massive gap of 17 million voters between the winning and losing camps will likely play heavily into the Constitutional Court’s final ruling, which is to be delivered on June 28.

Some — if not most — world leaders remained prudent in congratulating Jokowi when the results of exit polls first came out last month, but now the floodgates have opened and with them an outpouring of support from governments that likely have made meticulous prior assessments on the probability of a surprise upset from the losing side.

What was otherwise considered common courtesy for government leaders to congratulate a fellow statesman took on another meaning, one that numerous independent election observers from abroad have already surmised: that the 2019 presidential election, conducted in a relatively free, fair and peaceful manner, is now officially over.

In all fairness, most leaders focused their messages less on Jokowi’s convincing win and more on Indonesia’s successful handling of one of the biggest exercises in democracy.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, himself coming off a successful reelection bid, said the two countries should “take collective pride in a successful celebration of democracy”, while United States President Donald Trump said Indonesia was setting an example for having administered concurrent presidential and legislative elections with a voter turnout of a record 80 percent.

Other leaders called Jokowi’s election victory “strong” and “convincing”, and expressed “satisfaction” and “strong hope” for their continued partnership with Indonesia under his rule.

The legal challenge at the Constitutional Court will continue in due course, and it will be up to a panel of competent justices to decide on the final outcome, but in the eyes of many governments around the world, the jury is already out and the case already closed.

It is best for all sides now to put their differences behind them so that Indonesia will continue to be kept in high regard from shore to shore.