Indonesian Army Chief of Staff Budiman, without choosing a side, hopes to see a clear victory for one of the presidential candidates - Joko Widodo or Prabowo Subianto - in the election that is scheduled for Wednesday (09/07) as a large win will reduce chances of public disorder caused by disappointed supporters. Budiman said that a gap of at least five percent between the two contenders (based on the quick count results which will be released on the day of election) is considered a safer level.
If the quick count results show a very close outcome, then supporters of the losing presidential contender are more likely to cause public disorder and claim that the election has been rigged as a way to release their anger and frustrations according to Budiman.
The Indonesian army (ground forces) will follow the political developments closely and observe people’s reaction to the quick count results on Wednesday (09/07). In fact, since Sunday (06/07) the army has been ready to react in case public disorder occurs. Up to the present, however, the situation is conducive, perhaps supported by social media such as Facebook and Twitter. In recent weeks, debates among Indonesians on these social platforms have been intense and according to Budiman this has a positive side-effect as people are less likely to take their frustration onto the streets if they can ventilate and abreact their frustration on social media.
Budiman added that Indonesian army forces are spread across Indonesia and will intervene directly in case of public disorder, both horizontal violence (between supporters of both presidential candidates) but also vertical (between the people and the central or local governments).
The leadership of the Indonesian army (Tentara Nasional Indonesia, abbreviated TNI) ordered all its staff to stay neutral in public. A salient detail is that presidential candidate Subianto is a former army general (Head of the Army Strategic Reserve Command, Kostrad). He was discharged from military service in August 1998 after being linked to the kidnappings and disappearance of pro-democracy activists in Jakarta. These activists had called for an end to the authoritarian New Order regime, led by President Suharto (Subianto’s father-in-law).