Indonesia’s next presidential election may still be three years away, but that has done little to dampen speculation over who will put themselves forward. In fact, reaching the three-year countdown last month appears to have spurred speculation, with parties and candidates strongly hinting at their interest and opinion polls of dubious independence fuelling some potential candidacies and dousing others.
Incumbent Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the first president elected via direct election in 2004, and then re-elected in 2009, faces a term limit, which means he is ineligible to stand again in 2014. Yudhoyono is the first president after the fall of strongman Suharto in 1998 to reach this point, prompting fears the tail end of his time in office could leave him as a lame duck. A corruption scandal in his Democratic Party, ineffectual responses to sporadic religious violence against Christians and the Ahmadiyah Islamic minority and escalating conflict in Papua has led to the image of a president who lacks the stomach for decisive action. One commentator a few weeks back even speculated that if Yudhoyono didn’t turn things around next year, he might face impeachment.