Indonesian presidential election, 2004

Indonesian presidential election, 2004

Presidential elections were held in Indonesia on Monday July 5, and Monday September 20, 2004. In the second round former security minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono defeated incumbent President Megawati Sukarnoputri. Yudhoyono was inaugurated on October 20.

These were the first direct presidential elections in the history of Indonesia. Previously the President of Indonesia had been elected indirectly, by the legislature.


Former security minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono won the first round with 33% of the vote. Incumbent President Megawati Sukarnoputri was second with 26%, ahead of former armed forces chief Wiranto on 22%.

Yudhoyono did not do as well as had been expected from earlier opinion polls, while Megawati did better than expected. This was attributed by Indonesian observers to Yudhoyono's lack of a nation-wide party machine, such as Megawati's PDI-P and Wiranto's Golkar, which can effectively mobilize voters in the outlying provinces.

The counting of 113 million votes, already a huge task in such a large and diverse country, was made more difficult by problems with the ballot papers. Voters cast their ballots by making a hole in the ballot paper with a nail, above the photo of their preferred candidate. Because the ballot paper was handed to voters folded in half, many made the hole without unfolding the ballot, thus making two holes and invalidating their vote. Hundreds of thousands of these votes were invalidated before the General Election Committee (KPU) ruled that such ballots should be accepted.Fact|date=December 2007 This necessitated recounts in many places, slowing the count and raising fears of a disputed result.


The candidates in the 2004 Indonesian presidential election were:

*Incumbent President Megawati Sukarnoputri, first elected in 1999 as vice-president of Abdurrahman Wahid, then promoted to be president via Special Meeting of People's Consultative Assembly in 2001, was seeking a second term at these elections. Her party, the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P), polled only 18.5 % of the vote in the 2004 legislative election, suggesting that she would have an uphill battle to gain re-election. Her administration was criticised for inertia and corruption. Megawati chose Hasyim Muzadi as her vice-presidential candidate. Hasyim Muzadi is the Chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Indonesia’s largest Islamic organisation. Most polls before the election placed her in third place. Her position was weakened by public discontent with the faltering economy, endemic corruption and perceptions of increased insecurity.

*Former security minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was the candidate of three parties: Democratic Party (PD), Indonesian Unity Union Party (PKPI), and Moon & Star Party (PBB). His vice-presidential candidate was Jusuf Kalla, a well-known businessman and a member of Golkar party. His party won significant support in the legislative election, despite having little organization. Before the legislative election, polls suggested Yudhoyono was the most popular president candidate. Polls in June showed that Yudhoyono had a commanding lead.

*Former armed forces chief Wiranto was nominated by Golkar, the former ruling party of the Suharto era, after he won a majority vote at the 2004 Golkar convention. His vice-presidential candidate was Salahuddin Wahid (also known as Gus Solah), brother of former president Abdurrahman Wahid and like him a high ranking member of the National Awakening Party (PKB). Before being appointed, Gus Solah was a member of National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM). The combination of the two was interesting because Wiranto had been accused of human rights violations in East Timor.

*The National Mandate Party (PAN) appointed Amien Rais as its presidential candidate. His vice-presidential running mate was Siswono Yudo Husodo. He had the support of several small political parties as well as the significant Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), which commands more than 7% of the national vote. Amien was one of the leaders who helped overthrow the Suharto regime. Before the election, Amien was the head of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR).

*Incumbent Vice-President Hamzah Haz and Agum Gumelar were the presidential and vice-presidential hopefuls of the Development Unity Party (PPP). Although the PPP won more than 8% of the vote in the legislative election, opinion polls showed that Hamzah Haz was not as popular as his party. He invariably placed last in opinion polls.

The National Awakening Party (PKB) did not nominate a presidential candidate. Their chosen candidate, former president Abdurrahman Wahid, was ruled out by the courts because he was not physically fit (nor mentally fit, according to his critics). The PKB leaders put their weight behind Wiranto. Observers doubted that the party followers would follow their leaders' recommendation. At one point Wahid told his followers not to vote for anyone on election day, but after pressure from the party he decided to retract that statement.

The other party eligible to field a candidate in the presidential election, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), decided not to nominate a candidate. The party instead supported Amien Rais.

The field of candidates for the presidential election was partly determined by the results of the legislative election, held on April 5. Indonesian election law provides that presidential candidates must be nominated by – but not necessarily be members of – a party or coalition that wins at least 5% of votes in the parliamentary election, or 3% of the 550 seats (that is, 17 seats) in the People's Representative Council (DPR).

External links

* [ Indonesia's New General Election Law]
* [ Indonesian General Election Committee (KPU)]

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