Campaigning for Indonesia’s third general elections since the fall of the Suharto dictatorship got under way today along with the global economic crisis squarely at the forefront of voters’ concerns, representatives of 38 parties met at an exhibition hall in the capital Jakarta to sign a joint declaration promising a peaceful campaign period leading up to the April 9 polls in the world’s third-largest democracy.
The vote is taking place against slowing growth in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy as demand for Indonesia’s commodities exports plummets amid the world financial meltdown.
“I hope the political parties will not insult or violate each other in a way that could disintegrate into anarchy,” National Election Committee head Hafiz Anshary told the assembled party leaders. “We can prove to the world that Indonesia is a well-mannered country with standards and integrity.”
Major parties are expected to hold massive campaign rallies over the next 21 days and hundreds of thousands of police have been deployed to ensure security for the country’s 171 million registered voters.
“We are deploying two-thirds of our force of 400,000 personnel in order to secure this celebration of democracy,” deputy national police chief Makbul Padmanagara told the party delegates.