Navigating the Archipelago: Indonesia Politics Review in 2023

Indonesia is gearing up for a significant election set to take place early next year, with the major political events of 2023 serving as a preparatory phase for this upcoming electoral milestone. Scheduled for February 2024, the parliamentary and presidential elections in Indonesia will be held concurrently. The center-left PDI-P, currently holding the majority of seats in the legislative body, is anticipated to maintain its position as the largest party in the House of People’s Representatives.

Public opinion polls consistently indicate that PDI-P is ahead of its closest competitors, Golkar and Gerindra, both of which espouse a more right-wing political stance. In Indonesia, the influence of political patronage networks tends to limit significant shifts in party support from one election to the next. However, it’s worth noting that preferences in presidential voting are less bound by party affiliations, introducing an additional layer of complexity to the political landscape.

The Indonesian Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) has officially endorsed Anies Baswedan as a presidential candidate for the upcoming 2024 general elections. Subsequently, the Democratic Party followed suit by endorsing Anies Baswedan as a presidential nominee. The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle endorsed Ganjar Pranowo, the incumbent Central Java Governor, as a presidential hopeful for the 2024 general elections. In a parallel move, the People’s Conscience Party also pledged its support for Ganjar Pranowo as a presidential nominee for the 2024 elections. The United Development Party joined in by officially endorsing Ganjar Pranowo as a presidential nominee for the 2024 elections.

On May 14, President Joko Widodo concluded the People’s Consultation (Musra) by finalizing the names of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates for the 2024 Presidential Election. August 13 witnessed the formation of a coalition between the Golkar, PAN, PKB parties, and the Gerindra Party, jointly declaring Prabowo Subianto as a presidential candidate in the 2024 election. Anies Baswedan from the Nasdem Party and National Awakening Party (PKB) General Chair Muhaimin Iskandar were officially declared as Presidential Candidates and Vice Presidential Candidates in the 2024 Election. Subsequently, there was the official announcement of Gibran Rakabuming as the vice-presidential candidate for Prabowo Subianto in the 2024 Presidential Elections. On November 14, the General Elections Commission drew serial numbers for the 2024 presidential candidates. Finally, on November 28, the 2024 Election Campaign Period commenced and is scheduled to last for 75 days until February 10, 2024.

The situation in Papua remains tense. From January 7 to January 12, 2023, the separatist West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) conducted periodic attacks on Oksibil, the seat of Bintang Mountains Regency in Highland Papua. On February 7, Papuan rebels took a New Zealand national hostage in Nduga, demanding official recognition of Papua’s independence from Indonesia. On April 16, Papuan rebels reported the deaths of 9 Indonesian soldiers, claiming that the operation to rescue the New Zealand hostage in the Papuan jungles had been mishandled.

Indonesia’s stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict continues to influence its political sphere. Indonesia expressed solidarity with Palestine, resulting in the cancellation of its hosting of the U-20 World Cup by FIFA. On November 5, the Defend Palestine Action was held in Central Jakarta to support Palestine during the 2023 Israel–Hamas war. Indonesia also sent a ship to Gaza in response to the escalating violence.

Corruption remains a concern in Indonesian politics. The House of Representatives summoned incumbent coordinating minister Mahfud MD for questioning over allegations of money laundering amounting to more than 300 trillion rupiah within Indonesia’s Ministry of Finance. On May 17, the Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Johnny G. Plate, became a suspect in the Rp. 8 trillion Base Transceiver Station (BTS) 4G case.

On November 7, the Honorary Council of the Constitutional Court dismissed Anwar Usman as Chief Justice for violating the Code of Ethics. Suhartoyo was elected as the new Chief Justice on November 9, replacing Anwar Usman, who is also the brother-in-law of President Joko Widodo. This decision followed a controversial ruling regarding the age limit for presidential and vice-presidential candidates.

A significant development in Indonesia’s healthcare system occurred on August 8, 2023, with the implementation of the new Health Law (Law No.17 of 2023 on Health). Approved by the House of Representatives on July 11, 2023, during its 29th Plenary meeting, the law has monumental implications for the transformation of Indonesia’s healthcare system, despite facing challenges and objections from some medical practitioners.

As the enchanting archipelago of Indonesia braces itself for the theatrical spectacle of the 2024 Indonesian presidential election, the stage is set for the fifth act of this democratic performance, where the nation seeks to anoint the next custodians of its destiny. Nestled among the vibrant tapestry of Asia, boasting the fourth-largest population and a surging economy, Indonesia stands at the crossroads, ready to cast its vote and chart a course forward.

Against a backdrop of lingering challenges in Papua and the persistent shadow of a corrupted administration, the Indonesian people prepare to play their roles as the architects of their own future.