The world’s third-largest democracy is holding its fifth presidential and legislative elections since shaking off a dictatorship in 1998 in last February 14th. Indonesia’s General Election is considered the world’s biggest one-day democratic election ever since 204.8 million Indonesians have voted for the next president and vice president of the world’s third-biggest democracy and more than 20,000 local and national legislators.

It involves over 200 million voters and more than 800,000 polling stations polling stations on the same day, electing the President and Vice President, candidates for the central parliament (DPR), the regional representative council (DPD), and local legislative council (DPRD) members.

Prabowo Subianto, a former general who was once banned from entering the United States because of alleged human rights abuses, looks set to become the next President of Indonesia, according to preliminary results hours after the Southeast Asian country of 270 million people voted on Wednesday in the world’s largest single-day election. According to unofficial counts by independent agencies, Prabowo is on track to win with nearly 60% of the vote, while authorities are expected to validate the results in the coming weeks.

Jokowi’s Partiality

In the race for Indonesia’s presidency, three prominent candidates have emerged: Prabowo Subianto, a former general making his third bid for the presidency; Anies Baswedan, the former governor of Jakarta; and Ganjar Pranowo, the governor of Central Java. A presidential pair needs over 50% of the popular vote and at least 20% of votes in more than half of the country’s provinces to win outright. These three pairs of candidates are supported by parties that mostly constitute President Jokowi’s supporting parties (coalition) in the current government. All factions even still have active ministers in President Jokowi’s cabinet.

Given this overview, one might assume President Jokowi would remain neutral in the 2024 elections. Unfortunately, this assumption is incorrect because, although never explicitly stated, it is generally known that the candidate pair supported by President Jokowi is Prabowo Subianto and Gibran Rakabuming Raka. Prabowo’s alliance with Gibran, 36, has raised concerns among some Indonesians about dynastic politics and nepotism.

While Gibran is President’s eldest son, who secured a nomination ticket after successfully engineering the Constitutional Court. In a notable case, President Joko Widodo’s 36-year-old son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, mayor of Solo, was cleared by a constitutional court ruling to run for vice president. The ruling, issued by a court led by the president’s brother, stated that the age restriction for presidential candidates that they should be at least 40 years old does not apply to those who have served as mayors, regents or governors. While Widodo claims not to have intervened in the ruling, there is a clear benefit to his family.

Jokowi’s ambition to stay in power has damaged democracy and brought the republic to the edge of a cliff. Once his desire to extend presidential tenure failed following the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle’s (PDI-P) rejection, he resorted to other means to stay in power, namely, by promoting his eldest son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, as a vice-presidential candidate to run alongside Prabowo Subianto.

President Jokowi’s biased support, rife with nepotism, colors the policies he has made in his final year in office. First, the law was bent by the Constitutional Court (MK) when it agreed to the revision of a requirement for presidential and vice-presidential candidates under the General Election Law. This revision allowed Gibran, who has not hit the cut-off age, to run for vice president. Once this happened, state tools and resources have been mobilized to campaign for him.

The police have pressured village heads against supporting other candidates. Those who refuse have been intimidated by investigating the use of village funds for corruption. Ministries and institutions instruct their employees to vote for Prabowo-Gibran, threatening to transfer them to ‘unappealing’ places.  The police have also suppressed criticisms from professors and lecturers from various universities who have protested against Jokowi’s partisanship. Mid-ranking officers, such as sectoral police chiefs, have approached university officials, persuading them to create testimonies praising Jokowi’s administration.

One of the most problematic is the covert ‘pork-barrel politics’ in the distribution of social assistance. This is because the budget for social assistance has become the highest this year (almost reaching 500 trillion rupiahs), surpassing the social assistance budget during the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently in conversation is the distribution of social assistance from the state budget. Jokowi has been shamelessly distributing social aid close to the general election, even on roadsides. He and some ministers are using social aid to coax people into supporting their preferred candidate pair.

Furthermore, there are strong suspicions that the acting regional heads appointed by the President and the Minister of Home Affairs in several provinces and districts/cities also bear the responsibility of ensuring the victory of the Prabowo-Gibran pair in their respective regions. Such structured, systematic, and massive fraud has added to the long list of issues in Indonesian elections, such as money politics and mobilization of state civil apparatus.

Even more embarrassing: Jokowi made the statement that a president is allowed to campaign. While cherry-picking the Election Law, he failed to mention that it only allows an incumbent president running for a second term to campaign. Furthermore, Jokowi is not registered under the campaign team of any candidate—a requirement for a president wishing to campaign. This is why corrections and requests for state apparatuses to remain neutral during the election tend to feel stale and apologetic.

It seems that Jokowi are making sure that cheating does not always mean directing voters at voting booths. Neither does cheating always mean tampering with votes. Conditioning the general election to be in Prabowo-Gibran’s favor is blatant fraud. The candidate pair who has won a fraudulent election has little legitimacy. Dozens of universities have asked Jokowi to stop the regression of democracy and the abuse of state resources to perpetuate power. Blatantly, President and certain ministers are rightly criticized for undermining and accusing the protest movement of defending Prabowo’s rivals. Even if the protestors support Anies Baswedan or Ganjar Pranowo—the two other presidential candidates—the essence of these protests should be heard if Jokowi desires to safeguard democracy.

Rigged Election

Allegations of fraud in the 2024 presidential election have been predicted and widely voiced by pro-democracy groups. The legitimacy of the election has been affected by the various irregularities. The secretary general of Ganjar’s party, Hasto Kristiyanto, accused the Prabowo camp of resorting to legal manipulation, various forms of coercion, and abuse of state resources to gain an advantage in the contest.

Meanwhile Anies’ camp on Thursday alleged that Prabowo had used underhand tactics to gain a higher vote count, Ganjar, the third candidate, said his party and its coalition partners had launched an investigation into possible fraud. Ari Yusuf Amir, Anies’ campaign legal head, said he would verify the evidence he had and then reveal to the public how Prabowo benefited from pre-marked ballots, voter intimidation, voter list manipulation and vote buying.

Electoral intimidation is a problem disproportionately affecting civil servants and people in poor neighborhoods. Power brokers have reportedly told some civil servants to vote for particular candidates, intimating that refusal will mean being asked to serve in some remote places in Indonesia. People in areas with high poverty rates have allegedly received threats that cash transfer programs that would benefit the community will be revoked unless they vote for certain candidates.

Financial irregularities tied to election funding have also dogged parties across the political spectrum, leading the Association for Election and Democracy to cite a worrisome trend of citizens coming to see money politics as acceptable within a competitive democracy. The other challenge during the election campaign is the lack of accountability and transparency for campaign funding.

KamuBersihAkuPilih (You Clean, I Vote) Campaign

Various civil society organizations in Indonesia, led by Transparency International Indonesia (TI Indonesia), are not sitting idly by in the face of this challenging election. Some organizations strive to uphold the integrity of the 2024 elections by launching platforms that can capture violations during the elections, such as from TI Indonesia. has become the most accessible platform to report election violations that the public discovers, in addition to other features such as political party funding databases, and campaign databases for legislative candidates.

Up to one day after the election, had received 65 reports, of which 95% of violations were reported to have occurred during the campaign period. The majority of violations take the form of money politics, such as the distribution of money/goods to elect specific candidates, the distribution of social assistance in the name of particular candidates, as well as the mobilization of civil servants, members of the military, members of the police, village officials to take part in campaigns and even direct them to vote for specific candidates, as well as using state facilities for the benefit of election participants’ campaigns.

These various important initiatives are not te end but rather the initial steps to safeguard the integrity of the government that will be formed after the 2024 elections. Although during the campaign period, many politicians promised many things demanded by civil society (such as asset confiscation bills and political funding bills), the dynamics during the 2024 election process have shown that promoting the values of anti-corruption and governance integrity will not be any easier than before.