Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 March 2018

Indonesian expatriates in the UAE head to the polls for parliamentary elections

The General Election Commission has introduced measures allowing out-of-country voting ahead of the April 9 general elections in Indonesia.

ABU DHABI // Indonesian expatriates trooped to their embassy and consulate yesterday to vote in their parliamentary elections.

Voters turned up at the embassy in Al Bateen as early as 8am to cast their ballots.

“It’s a big day for Indonesians here in Abu Dhabi as we choose our leaders for the next five years,” said Salman Al Farisi, the Indonesian ambassador. “Inshallah it will be a definitive day for us.”

The General Election Commission has introduced measures allowing out-of-country voting ahead of the April 9 general elections in Indonesia.

Indonesians back home can vote for four different assemblies – at the national, provincial and district or city level and the Regional Representative Council, Indonesia’s senate.

However, Indonesians abroad only get to cast a vote for the People’s Representative Council, the assembly at the national level, which covers south and central Jakarta.

They need to select from 12 national political parties each with seven candidates with the exception of the Justice and Prosperity Party which only fielded six candidates. One needs to get at least 300,000 votes to get a seat in parliament.

Gito Susanto, 33, a civil engineer who has lived in the UAE for seven years, came all the away from Al Ain to vote.

“My vote will make a difference,” he said. “A swing vote is crucial in any election. We are voting for the future of our country.”

Emi Anisah, a 48-year-old Indonesian housewife and a former member of the parliament in 1982, agreed.

“We need to elect good leaders and fight corruption in government,” she said. “We should let our voice be heard even if we there are fewer voters outside our country.”

A total of 7,379 Indonesians in the Abu Dhabi emirate had signed up for the elections, according to Johan Arwansyah, the head of the Indonesia election committee in Abu Dhabi.

“About 4,000 are expected to personally cast their votes at the embassy, while the rest are expected to vote by mail,” he said. “We hope to receive their ballots before April 15, when we transmit the election results to Jakarta.”

By 6pm, the election committee reported a low voter turnout of 807.

Votes were cast on paper ballots and will be counted by hand and tabulated manually.

Of the 7,800 registered voters in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, only 1,010 cast their ballot at the consulate when voting ended at 6pm, said Nasrudin Mawardi, headof the Indonesian election committee in Dubai.

“Busloads of voters arrived from Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain,” he said. “It seems more people were interested to vote from the Northern Emirates than in Dubai.”

The outcome of this election will be instrumental to Indonesia’s third direct presidential elections on July 9, when voters will elect a president for a five-year term.

Indonesia’s main opposition party is set to win a convincing victory at legislative elections on April 9, boosted by the nomination of the popular Jakarta governor as their presidential candidate, a survey of 2,000 people by private pollster Roy Morgan Research showed.


* With additional reporting by Agence France-Presse