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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 September, 2004, 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK
Indonesia elections: Your reaction
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Former army general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono looks set to become Indonesia's new president after a landmark election which saw the Indonesian populace voting for their leader for the first time.

Official results are not expected until next week, but it seems likely that voters have chosen to throw out current President Megawati Sukarnoputri in favour of Mr Yudhoyono.

President Megawati has so far declined to concede, saying she will await the official outcome.

But she urged Indonesians to accept the outcome, whatever it might be.

What does Mr Yudhoyono's win mean for Indonesia? Will he bring in a new era of policies or just more of the same? What does the election result mean for the wider region?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

This is a huge achievement for Indonesia and for the Muslim world. For Indonesia this means a speedy recovery so that everyone can get on with their dreams in life. Many thanks to Megawati and Abdurrahman Wahid who paved the way for this democratic phase. Imagine this: The biggest Muslim country in the world and the third biggest democracy in the world! I think now it's time for Indonesia to speak up, and stand up for itself and for other poor and developing nations in the world and to refuse to be dominated and manipulated by other more powerful nations. To tell the world that democracy cannot be imposed to a nation by force by other nations.
Isabelle Raihan , Indonesian in London, UK

It has been long and painful learning years for Indonesians, but we have endured and bitten the bullet. Now it is our turn to give a lesson to the elites: never take anything for granted, not our votes, not our loyalties. Yudhoyono will be evaluated in 2009 election. Creating more jobs, slashing corruption and maintaining clean government are the basics that Megawati did not deliver. Yudhoyono should better learn. Fast.
Upik, Ithaca, USA

Having spend so much of its independence under authoritarian rule, Indonesians were not comfortable with Megawati's aloof and often passive leadership. The legal framework for a democracy is in place but people need a leader who can make them excited about the new era Indonesia is supposed to have entered. This radical shift in leadership may be just what the country needs.
AK Sethi, Westport, USA

As a British expat married to an Indonesian I have been appalled by the drift , corruption and general non- achievement of the Megawati government. This huge and long-suffering country deserves better and SBY has the chance to make real change happen. I hope he is equal to the challenge.
Adrian Baron, Cairo, Egypt

Indonesia should be proud that it can hold a largely peaceful elections with a significant amount of presidential choices for the people in the first round. For the biggest Islamic nation in the world, the transition to full democracy is certainly remarkable. There will always be problems for Indonesia but at least now they have an elected hope in the form of Bambang Yudhoyono.
Wayne Soon, Singapore

Susilo seems to be "good news" for the US, or rather the Bush administration, given his military background and also military training in the US. The fear might be that the two might get too close and Susilo ends up becoming another Suharto-style US ally.
Stefan Baumgarten, Toronto, Canada

It is about time that poor Indonesians should get a normal and reasonable president. I hope he is not too bad this time.
Lewis Kwong, Singapore

Democracy is more established in Indonesia than in the Arab world
Mohammed Emad, Jordan
From BBCArabic.com:Indonesia, by all accounts, has made an achievement by bringing to power rulers worthy of their positions. But we should put it into consideration that Indonesia is not in permanent struggle with a threatening neighbour like Israel and the United States doesn't plan to take over Indonesia. That's why we will fail while they will succeed.
Tarek Shams, Lebanon

From BBCArabic.com:Democracy is more established in Indonesia than in the Arab world. We wish Arab citizens would get more accustomed to democratic practices in various aspects of life. But I think the West will never allow democracy in the Middle East as this will work against its interests in the region and will be an obstacle to its schemes to impede economic, industrial and scientific progress in the region. I think if we get rid of the United States' influence, Arabs - by and large- will be much better off.
Mohammed Emad, Jordan

From BBCArabic.com:The democracy the Indonesian people are enjoying right now is self-made with no help from no-one. Arab citizens need comprehensive political awareness and don't have to wait for reform to come from the West. Unfortunately, most Arab citizens are naturally inclined to bow to their rulers. We need to break our chains and to develop our own political awareness and get over our inner fears.
Ahmed Ben Ahmed, Algeria

From BBCArabic.com:It's great to witness free, democratic elections in the biggest Muslim country. What's even greater is to have a woman candidate for presidency, unlike most Arab countries who still oppress women.
Haitham Rawashda, Jordan

From BBCArabic.com:Is democracy only restricted to the freedom of political choice? If yes, implementing democracy won't make any difference in the Arab world. But if democracy means unconstrained liberty within a framework of moral values, it will be very much welcomed. We need to take our decisions away from any constraints imposed by individuals, governments, political parties or unions.
Mujtabi Hassan, Syria

From BBCArabic.com:Non Arabic-speaking Muslim countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia or Turkey are more likely to embrace progress and democracy. They are not restricted by ideas hindering free thinking, and flexible interpretation of Islam.
Hany, Egypt

I don't expect any significant changes to happen
Harry, Birmingham, UK
Relatives and close friends of Messrs Susilo (President) and Kala (VP) are already buzzing to capitalise the connection for personal gain. More of the same for Indonesia? Lets hope Mr Susilo will make history that eradicates Indonesia's culture of cronyism, collusion, nepotism, and corruption known locally as KKN.
Ichlas Noensie, Tulsa, USA

Although I hate to say this, I don't expect any significant changes to happen. They both have bad track records and it's logical to expect the same for the future. I'd be very happy if I'm wrong though. We also need to realise that the current democratic system is not yet ideal. The problematic ones are still able to become the last candidates. This is because of ability to brainwash the voters with the help of money and media, political parties which divide people and encourage allegiance to parties (instead of to the people) and so on. I hope the next people's representatives can put this into their agenda and further perfect the system.
Harry, Birmingham, UK

What ever might come from SBY, the way he was peacefully and democratically elected is already a victory for Indonesia and a proof that Islam has nothing to deal with authoritarian and dictatorial regime using it as a tool. Who knows if, in the decades to come (let's be optimistic) such major countries as Indonesia or India will not bring the light of true democracy to some corrupted, unfaithful, greedy, law and order ideology.
Irgi, Samarinda

Having lived 13 years in Indonesia under Suharto, my expectation is that Pak Yudhoyono first of all will stop the slow sinking into chaos and slowly turn the country around. He will figuratively speaking "plug the holes and start pumping", which is the beginning of any recovery. Being one of the cleanest politicians in Indonesia, he deserves all the support he can get.
H Nyqvist, Manila, Philippines

One of the disappointments here in New Zealand is the complete lack of coverage of the Indonesian elections. Indonesia is one of the biggest countries in the world, embracing freedom in their own style and rapidly developing. Megawati took a lot of flak for problems that were probably beyond her office and I don't see Yudoyono being the answer to corruption and the military's violence. I think those of us in the region have to hope that he will keep Indonesia along a path of co-operation with Asean and Pacific Nations, as Indonesia has the potential to be the next economic miracle.
Stephen Cooper, Auckland, New Zealand

It is yet to be seen if the armed forces, the police, the judiciary and the politicians can put aside their own self-interest
Adrian Parke, Woodbridge, United Kingdom
Having worked in Indonesia for nine years, my first impression was of a reasonably orderly and economically booming country, where the streets felt safer than many cities in Britain. I say impression as I was also aware of Suharto's bloody history with the PKI and Timor and elsewhere. Witnessing his downfall on the streets of Jakarta, it was the economic crisis which tipped the scales against him.

The economy has not greatly improved and the poor have as little voice as before. Reformasi was the catchphrase which is little heard now as very little of the old regime has been reformed. Corruption is still rampant and perhaps wider spread. Social anarchism prevails, the populace easily manipulated. The saving grace of the Indonesian character is that they would rather enjoy the small pleasures of life than kill or be killed over political or religious principle. The fanatics are I am sure still a very small minority. The old adage is that with freedom comes responsibility, and it is yet to be seen if the armed forces, the police, the judiciary and the politicians can put aside their own self-interest and become responsible for a democratic freedom to be enjoyed by all their fellow citizens.
Adrian Parke, Woodbridge, United Kingdom

Given both candidates were prominent figures in Suharto's totalitarian Government which presided over many human rights atrocities I don't feel any result is a good one for Indonesia.
Athos Athanasiou, London UK

Indonesia by far now has proved itself as the third largest democracy in the world
Johan, Jakarta, Indonesia
Indonesia by far now has proved itself as the third largest democracy in the world and even can be considered the first in the ASEAN region. Either Megawati or SBY may have their own strengths and weakness, but none are undoubtedly nationalist/secular which is good for the country. Right now, what we need is not anymore knowing who's winning, but rather working in close cooperation for the sake of our nation. We had our election, and it was done neatly. We have shown the world that we can evolve better, even much better than our neighbouring countries who are still adopting "pseudo democracy". In the long run, we will strive better and I am sure by working together combating the fundamentalism, terrorism, Indonesia will bounce back sooner than we even think. We have set an example for the region, and leading a way it's not easy. Be proud Indonesians!
Johan, Jakarta, Indonesia

Yes, I believe SBY will be a much better president than Megawati. Megawati does not seem to grasp the problems in Indonesia as shown by her replies/performances in the media/TV. Yudhoyono has a much better understanding of the problems and has better leadership skills.
Ri, Jakarta

Who said that Muslims cannot live in democracy? Who said that Islam is intolerant? Terrorism has nothing to do with religion. I am proud of my country. I voted once in the first round, but not in the last one. Despite my disappointment for the election's results, I and millions of Indonesians accept this as what our people want for our country
Avan, Leiden, the Netherlands

As an Indonesian who knew how life was under Suharto I do not really believe in any politician.
Di, Mass. USA
As an Indonesian who knew how life was under Suharto I do not really believe in any politician. I really do not know what Mr. Yudhoyono will bring to the Indonesian people. I hope the first thing he does is to fight corruption and nepotism which I believe are the root of all the problems in the country. So we will see.
Di, Mass. USA

Megawati was always above the reality in her country. Therefore nothing happened. Fortunately nothing new bad happened either except the fundamentalist terrorism that she cannot be blamed for. If Susilo really wants to put the fundamentalists in line then he might be good for Indonesia. If he continues to allow operating freedom for various "Laskars" and religious fundamentalists nothing will change. He also cannot stop the corruption quickly as it is deeply rooted in the national behaviour. If he wants he can also reduce that slowly. You never know.
Mikko Toivonen, Helsinki, Finland

I don't mean to judge who is the best candidate to lead the Indonesian people but I would like to commend the manner by which they have conducted this democratic process. It is surprisingly peaceful and orderly considering the size of the electorate. I wish our ASEAN neighbour the best.
Cesar Fabunan, Quezon City, Philippines




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