While Thailand continues to stumble to be taken seriously as a democratic country despite claiming to have had “democracy” for eight decades, other Asian countries are making dramatic changes. Enthusiastic voters in Indonesia and Afghanistan, long seen as political basket cases, have made their voices heard, as have the citizens of India, the world’s largest democracy.
Indonesians went to the polls on April 9 to choose legislative assembly members, and although results are not due until May, it is astonishing that an archipelago of some 18,000 islands with 240 million people managed this task without many problems.
The Indonesian polls were only the fourth since the fall of strongman Suharto in 1998. Early counts point to major changes for Asean’s largest economy. Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, remains the front-runner for the presidency, but the centre-left PDI-P party that is backing him garnered only 19% of the popular vote, far less than the 30% it had anticipated.
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