Indonesia election: Five things you need to know

A woman casts her at a soccer themed polling station in Surabaya, Indonesia. (EPA)

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia is stepping down this year after reaching the two-term limit of his time in office. As the country holds both a legislative and presidential election this year, we look at some of the key things to note about the process.

Indonesia holds two elections this year: the parliamentary election (April 9) and presidential elections (July 9).

It will be the fourth time Indonesia has held elections since President Suharto resigned in 1998 after three decades in power, amid violent anti-government protests.

The parliamentary election will elect representatives for both the national and regional legislatures.

Why is this election significant?

Political parties, candidates and observers are watching the parliamentary election as a prelude to the main event, the presidential vote on July 9. The outcome of the April 9 vote will determine how parties form coalitions and select presidential and vice-presidential candidates.

The House of Representatives also performs a crucial function of passing laws. The composition of the House could pose potential challenges for the new President in the execution of policy-making duties.

The key numbers

  • 186 million eligible voters
  • 53 to 60 million are estimated to be young voters
  • 546,000 polling booths
  • 6,000 candidates fighting for 560 House of Representatives seats
  • 230,000 candidates contesting 19,000 seats in local government

Who are the candidates?

There are 12 national parties contesting the elections and three provincial parties taking part in the local elections in semi-autonomous Aceh.

But only three parties are expected to get enough votes to be able to back presidential contender.

Leader: Megawati Sukarnoputri
Presidential candidate: Joko Widodo
95 seats in parliament, 14.03 per cent in 2009 elections

Leader: Aburizal Bakrie
Presidential candidate: Aburizal Bakrie
107 seats in parliament, 14.45 per cent in 2009 elections

Leader: Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Presidential candidate: Not yet selected
150 seats in parliament, 20.85 per cent in 2009 elections

This year's election campaigns have also been notable for its 'pretty candidates'.

Who is likely to win?

Based on current polling, the parliamentary election is expected to favour the main opposition their popular presidential candidate, Jakarta governor Joko Widodo, which would bring him a step closer to ebing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's successor.

How might Indonesia's foreign policy change after the election?

Foreign relations under Joko Widodo can be hard to ascertain, Elisabeth Kramer at the University of Sydney writes.

"He has limited international diplomatic experience and has issued little commentary on international affairs. The closest media coverage of Jokowi seems to get to touching upon international issues are discussions of his love for Metallica."

Meanwhile, Jokowi’s likely opponent for the presidency Prabowo Subianto has given a stronger indication of his position on Australia-Indonesia relations. 

"While Prabowo was quick to defend Australia’s phone tapping, his party’s platform also has a strong economic nationalist slant, with little mention of international relations," Elisabeth Kramer writes.

Source: SBS