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Hail to the Chief!

Indonesia Peacefully Elects its First Directly Elected President.

(9/27/2004) While the official election results will only be announced on October 5, 2004, it appears a foregone conclusion that Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) and Jusuf Kalla have won Indonesia's first direct popular election of a President and Vice President. Garnering over 60% of the vote and winning majorities in 30 of Indonesia's 32 provinces, SBY and Kalla have managed to unseat incumbent Megawati Soekarnoputri and her running mate, Hasyim Muzadi.

Despite those predicting doom and destruction, the Indonesian people proven themselves completely at home with an open and democratic process. In the two-phased electoral process every party and political persuasion had its day to air its views and visions. In the end, the people opted for the more moderate and secular views espoused by President Megawati and SBY, the remaining Presidential candidates in the last round of voting.

The final round of voting was a peaceful event, largely free of party-driven mass rallies of the past as voters apparently chose to quietly reflect on the qualities of each candidate and then make a personal choice for the nation's next leader.

Similarly, both of the competing parties are demonstrating the same grace and style in the awkward transitional period leading up to the formal swearing in of SBY and Kalla on October 20, 2004. Ibu Mega has called on the people to support their new President while SBY has made steps to embrace President Megawati and her supporters in his new administration's make up.

If the process of electing a President over the past months is any indication, Indonesia although a relatively new player among democratic nations may have lessons to share with the rest of the world on how to conduct a participatory democratic process.