07/07/2009, 00.00
INDONESIA

Identity papers used to vote in Indonesia’s presidential elections

Mathias Hariyadi
People who are not on voters’ lists can still vote presenting their identity papers. This will guarantee basic political rights and prevent popular unrest. Pollsters and local pundits give outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono a good chance to succeed himself.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – A day ahead of tomorrow’s presidential election Indonesia’s Constitutional Court is giving unregistered voters a chance to vote. In order to exercise their right they must go to polling stations with valid identity papers. This decision comes after a mass protest campaign by political leaders, civil rights activists and religious leaders who invoked “everyone’s right to vote.”

Today provincial governors said that everything is ready for the election. Outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is running for the Democrat Party, urged the governors to be "neutral and professional" enforcing the ruling by the Constitutional Court.  

Yesterday the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court Mohammad Mahfud said that unregistered voters would be able to cast their vote by presenting their identity cards or passports.

This means that every citizen will be able to exercise his or her fundamental political rights in accordance with the constitution. Importantly, this will also prevent social unrest in the country.

Initially the Indonesia Election Commission (KPU) had ruled against voting by unregistered voters on constitutional grounds.

Following a close door meeting with Kalla and Megawati, who are also running for the presidency, KPU Chairman Abdul Hafiz Ansyari gave the green light to the change. Both candidates had complained that thousands of their supporters had been excluded from the voter rolls, arguing that any result would thus be unrepresentative of the people’s will.

Still the latest surveys put President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ahead of the pack. Local pundits believe that the court’s decision to allow unregistered voters to cast their ballot should not change the outcome.

The outgoing president is thus in a good position to succeed himself in what is the second direct presidential election in Indonesia since the fall of General Suharto in 1998.

Three candidates are running for the office of the president: outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono from the Democrat Party, who chose the Governor of Bank Indonesia Boediono as his running mate; Jusuf Kalla, who is running for Golkar, with former General Wiranto as his vice-presidential candidate; and Setiawati Soekarnoputri Megawati for the Indonesian Democratic Party, who was president between 2001 and 2004 and has another former general, Prabowo Subianto, as her running mate.

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