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.
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 bureaucracy.
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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 necessary.
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 provisions.
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 acted similarly.
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.
According to CountryAAH, the population of Indonesia in 2019 was 270,625,457, ranking number 4 in the world. The population growth rate was 1.100% yearly, and the population density was 149.3873 people per km2.