Big election day in Indonesia. Today the streets are empty and the shops are closed as people vote for the next president. It’s assumed that the reigning president SBY (Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono) will win again, but in Makassar, where I’m at, there’s JK (Jusuf Kalla) fever. JK is from Makassar and around the city, cries of “Satu kampung!” (“one village”) ring out. Though there are rumors that JK was actually an inciter in the anti-Chinese riots that happened in Makassar back in 1997, even the Chinese community here has seemed to rally around him. One Chinese man explained, “You have to have pride in where you’re from. If someone Asian tried to run for the US president, wouldn’t you want to vote for him?” I paused, considered, and told him I could see where he was coming from. There has never been a president from outside of the island of Jawa, and JK represents an opportunity for eastern Indonesians to finally be represented.
I followed Tiara and Mami Rudi to the elections today. The process was very fast and efficient. They flashed their identity cards, were handed a ballot and led into a curtained booth, slipped their ballot into a box, and had their fingers stained with purple ink.