Presidential Elections in Papua: A Battle Between 'New' and 'Old'?

SSGM In Brief

Author/s (editor/s):

Jenny Munro

Publication year:


Publication type:

In Brief

Presidential elections will be held in Indonesia on 9 July 2014. The two candidates seem to offer a choice that Papuans have not previously encountered in an election: between the old military guard and a new face of populist leadership. Following Richard Chauvel (2011, 106), Papua has become a battle ground in a struggle between a 'new' and an 'old' Indonesia. The 'old' Indonesia considers that its soldiers' torturing fellow Indonesian citizens in a most barbaric manner is an 'incident'. The 'new' Indonesia aspires to the ideals of its original founders in becoming a progressive outward looking cosmopolitan, multi ethnic and multi faith society. The influence of 'old' Indonesia has made Papua the exception to many of the nationwide processes of democratisation. This In Brief describes some of the forces at play in the presidential election in Papua, including various calls for a boycott by separatist/nationalist organisations that want Papuans to agitate for selfdetermination rather than legitimise a colonial state, as well as student groups and districtlevel officials who have grievances regarding the legislative elections that took place in April 2014. It suggests that the contest between 'new' and 'old' can be seen not so much in the choice between two very different candidates but rather in the choice by government officials to support a militarised electoral process rather than a civilian effort to manage the election and promote voting.

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