A German-born woman is breaking new ground in Indonesia by running for parliament in next month’s general election, and is learning some tough lessons about politics along the way.
Petra Oderbrecht has lived in Indonesia for 20 years and is hoping to win a seat in the central parliament representing the resort island of Bali for the nationalist Democratic Renewal Party.
The 42-year-old, blue-eyed blonde from Hamburg said the world’s third-largest democracy was a work in progress.
The first white candidate to contest an Indonesian election said she decided to run because she wanted to contribute to her adopted country, a sweeping archipelago in Southeast Asia with 234 million people, mainly Muslims.
Democracy is still in its infancy in Indonesia, and the April 9 vote is only the country’s third general election since the fall of the Suharto dictatorship in 1998 after more than 30 years in power.
Her priorities are equal rights for women and respect for cultural diversity in a country with significant Buddhist, Christian, Confucian, Hindu and animist minorities.