Indonesia. President Joko Widodo was re-elected on April
17. He received 55.5% of the vote. Widodo made the choice to
highlight successes in combating poverty and increased
growth. The main opponent, former General Prabowo Subianto,
received 44.5%. Concerns erupted and at least eight were
killed in Jakarta on May 22 when the Election Commission
announced the results. Subianto appealed the result, but it
was rejected in June.
In the parliamentary elections held at the same time,
Widodo's PDI-P (Indonesia's Democratic Party for Struggle)
and its allies, including Golkar, retained the majority in
the House of Representatives with 349 of the 575 seats.
About 80% of the 192 million eligible voters voted.
CountryAAH, PDI-P's Puan Maharani, one of 100 elected female MPs,
became the country's first female president on October 1.
The largest opposition party was Subiantos Gerindra with 78
seats. Its allies - PKP (Justice Party) and PAN (National
Mandate Party) - received 94 seats. In October, however,
Gerindra joined the government coalition.
In a July speech, Widodo stated that he wanted to improve
the health care and education system and simplify the state
In the new government, published in October, Subianto
became Minister of Defense. His past in the security forces
has been criticized by human rights groups. Sri Mulyani
Indrawati continues as Finance Minister.
The economy is a challenge. Growth was expected to be 5%
in 2019 and 5.1% in 2020, according to forecasts from the
International Monetary Fund. This was well below the
government's target of 7%. More foreign investment is also
Indonesia signed a trade agreement with Australia in
March after ten years of negotiations. It will reduce
tariffs on agricultural products, electronics, cars and
timber. The Wido government also wants to reach a free trade
and investment agreement with the EU. Talks began in 2016.
However, the EU Commission wants to phase out palm oil, an
important Indonesian export product, from fuel to 2030.
The eastern part of Papua was shaken by the worst unrest
in several years. A series of protests erupted in August
after some students allegedly violated the Indonesian flag.
There were reports that the students were subjected to
racism by a teacher. The protests became violent and public
buildings caught fire in the cities of Wamena, Sorong and
Jayapura. At least 30 people were killed in various clashes
and thousands fled. To curb the unrest, the Ministry of
Information temporarily shut down the Internet connection to
Papua. Some demanded a referendum on independence.
There were widespread protests in other parts of the
country against the diminishing power of the KPK's
corruption commission. The decision was taken by the
outgoing parliament in September. Widodo temporarily halted
changes in the Penal Code that make extra-marital sex
criminal, restrict abortion rights and expand blasphemy
Widodo proposed a move of the capital Jakarta in August.
The city, built on wetlands, is sinking and large parts are
below sea level. Pollution and traffic problems are
extensive. The new capital would be located in Kalimantan,
the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo. Jakarta would
remain the commercial capital. Indonesia announced in July
that hundreds of tonnes of plastic waste and other hazardous
waste would be sent back to the US, France, Germany,
Australia and Hong Kong. Several neighboring countries have
Major fires, the worst since 2015, occurred mainly on the
islands of Sumatra and Borneo. The forest is burned to clear
land for agriculture, oil palm plantations and pulp forest.
Police arrested over 180 suspects for causing fires. Four
companies were also investigated. Smoke causes major
problems, even in neighboring countries. The World Bank
estimated that the fires cost Indonesia $ 5.2 billion. Over
50 people died and tens of thousands were evacuated
following floods and landslides caused by unusually heavy
monsoon rains that hit Jakarta and nearby satellite cities
in early 2020.