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Indonesia: Where VPs Matter

Debates among Indonesia’s vice presidential candidates will be held tonight, and many are hoping that they will be more substantial than last Thursday’s presidential debates, which the Jakarta Post called an exercise in “insipid lip service.” Of the presidential debates, Singapore Institute of Internal Affairs reported,

The first televised debate between the presidential candidates… was a disappointing moment for audiences and pundits alike, as the 3 candidates failed to engage in significant debate about the substantive issues that face Indonesia, the caliber of the candidates or the substance of their electoral platforms.

The outcome of the first debate is likely to play in Yudhoyono’s favour, who currently leads the other presidential candidates in the polls, and whose party won the general elections that just passed with a wide margin. If the other presidential candidates and their running partners fail to use the following televised debates to distinguish their electoral platforms, Yudhoyono’s current popularity will be undiminished.

Given the popular failing of the presidential debates, candidates have also been conducting grassroots campaigns, appealing to farmers, business men…and journalists. The Jakarta Post reports,

Under the contract, Megawati agreed that, if she and her running mate, Prabowo Subianto, were elected in the election on July 8, her administration would ensure adequate provisions of fertilizer and irrigation water were made available for rice paddy fields. Agriculture is one of the Megawati ticket’s top development priorities.

… [Incumbent] Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono also promised local businesspeople that, if re-elected, he would simplify the procedure for obtaining business licenses.

Before his speech, SBY bought fish from local fishermen as part of a meet and greet with fishing communities along Padang’s west coast.

While SBY and Megawati worked hard to convince the grassroots they are worth their salt, presidential hopeful Jusuf Kalla worked a room comprised of an entirely different echelon of society, discussing the importance of a free press with thousands of journalists in Jakarta.

Generals Prabowo Subianto and Wiranto and former central back governor Boediono will debate on issues of national identity tonight.

— Tina Carter, Trinity ’10
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