Elections in Indonesia
On April 5, five years after the last elections in 1999, Indonesia has elected a new parliament and new regional councils. We have included a selection from the IISH collections on Indonesia below: T-shirts with political texts and images from the period 1997-2002. See also the selection of propaganda materials for the 2004 elections.
For about 147 million Indonesians qualified to vote this is the first time they will be able to directly elect the president and vice-president. The first round of the presidential elections will be on July 5. If a second vote is necessary, the decisive round will follow on September 20. It is the second time since 1955 that free elections are being held in Indonesia. Please click on this link to find out more information on the historical background.
24 parties have participated in the elections of April 2004. Bulls, stars, half moon, and pentagons symbolize the ideology of the various secular-nationalistic, Muslim, and other parties. The two largest, dominant parties in the country are the Golkar (Partai Golongan Karya), the party that for almost 30 years formed the backbone of the authoritarian regime of former president Suharto, and the PDI-P (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia - Perjuangan), the "struggling" democratic party of president Megawati, supported by a majority of the common people. Other parties that could play a role are the Muslim parties PKB, PPP (headed by vice-president Hamzah Haz), and PAN.
For a long time president Megawati and her PDI-P were leading the polls, but criticism of her policy and supposed irresolution is growing. Megawati operates cautiously, maneuvering between the army, the "orde baru" circle around Suharto, the Muslim groups, and her own supporters. As a result, the reformasi movement has been crippled. An interesting detail is that Megawati's two sisters also participated in the elections as prominent candidates for the parliament: Sukmawati for PNI-Marhaenisme and Rachmawati for Pelopor.
Among the candidates running for the presidency are: retired general Wiranto, the controversial former commander of the Indonesian Army, accused of crimes against humanity because of his supposed involvement in the violence at Eastern Timor in 1999; Amien Rais, leader of the PAN, formerly one of the leading figures of the Muslim movement Muhammadiyah; Megawati, the current president of Indonesia; Akbar Tandjung, president of parliament, leader of Golkar, and recently cleared of charges of corruption; and rising star Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, former general and former minister in the Megawati cabinet, of the new Partai Demokrat.
The Institute holds various archival and audiovisual collections on the elections and political parties of Indonesia. Since 1996 groups of activists, young artists, students, and dropouts used the reformasi movement to criticize openly the political and economic elite. The materials of this opposition, posters, T-shirts, banners, and pamphlets, have been acquired and stored in the Institute.
The special collection consisting of 89 T-shirts that were worn as propaganda during rallies and demonstrations of the reformasi movement and the election campaign of 1999 are especially noteworthy. Socially and politically engaged groups such as PoliTshirt, Taring Padi, Partai Kaos Oblong, and Kaos Kritis Nasional designed the T-shirts. A selection of a dozen T-shirts are highlighted here from the collection.