World Bulletin / News Desk
Indonesia’s two presidential candidates and their running-mates began a one-month election campaign Wednesday that will see one of them become the leader of the world's most populous Muslim nation.
The winner of the July 9 election and his cabinet is expected to face hard challenges in the economic sector. Although macro-economic performance has been positive over the last ten years, the real-life socioeconomic conditions of the majority of the country's people are of great concern.
Prabowo Subianto - a businessman and former lieutenant general in the country’s armed forces - inaugurated a library in West Java’s capital Bandung and visited members of the cooperative, while running-mate Hatta Radjasa met members of Islamic organization Nahdlatul Wathon, many of whom were educated at Pesantren boarding schools that teach Islamic science and stress the necessity of an Islamic education.
Meanwhile, Joko "Jokowi" Widodo - a one time little-known furniture retailer, whose stock began to rise in 2005 when he became mayor of the central Javanese city of Solo and is now favorite for the presidency - started his campaign emphasizing an economics vision to young businessmen at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in the nation's capital Jakarta.
He said he would give great attention to small-and medium-sized industries, many of which gained their economic stealth from the nation's 1998 monetary crisis, when most survived bankruptcy.
Jokowi's running mate Jusuf Kalla - a philanthropist and successful entrepreneur - attended prayers with 300 clerics from Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Islamic organization in Indonesia, for whose followers’ votes the two presidential camps are known to compete.
At the end of the campaign’s first day, entertainment was organized to promote Jokowi-JK in western Aceh and Papua, provinces in the country’s west and east.
The Indonesian economy has grown by an average of 5.4 percent per year and the percentage of middle class continues to rise as the GDP reached USD$1 trillion - the second largest in the world.
However, about 29.1 million people – 11 percent of the total population - are still poor. Around 7.39 million inhabitants of working age are unemployed while another 37 million are underemployed.
High unemployment and the increasing gap between the rich and poor have led to increases in theft, robbery, drug consumption and suicide, as well as the social jealousy that is reflected in various forms of demonstrations and fights between groups.
Indonesia also faced the problem of low competitiveness, having ranked only fifth in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and 38th in the world.Last Mod: 04 Haziran 2014, 14:08