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Indonesian Presidential Election Leaves Room for Both Optimism and Pessimism

Washington, D.C., Sept. 22, 2004 - Professor Daniel Lev told an audience at the Voice of America yesterday that the election earlier this week of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as the new president of Indonesia demonstrates "that the problems [in Indonesia] have much less to do with society than with the government" and that there is reason for both pessimism and optimism.

There is cause for pessimism, according to Lev, because Yudhoyono's policies are not clear, his party is small with eight seats in the Indonesian Parliament, and as a former general, he maybe tempted to turn to the army if he cannot get things done through Parliament. There is cause for optimism because a new generation of leaders is taking over.

Professor Daniel Lev, an Emeritus Professor at the University of Washington, was taking part in a VOA panel discussion entitled "Indonesia's Presidential Choice: The Next Five Years." Joining Professor Lev were Christianto Wibisono, columnist and Chairman of the Center for World Conscience; and Harry Purwanto, Deputy Chief of Mission from the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Washington, D.C.

At the grassroots level, Indonesians voted for economic change, according to Wibisono, because they have not seen improvement in their own economic condition even though the national economy improved under Megawati.

Purwanto said that Indonesia has a strong commitment to fighting terrorism and that the Indonesia army is committed to change and has no interest in prolonging the practices of the past. He predicted that the close relationship between the U.S. and Indonesia will remain the same over the next five years.

VOA's Indonesian Service broadcasts an average of four and a half hours per day of news and information programming to Indonesia. Its radio programs are carried by more than 180 AM/FM affiliates across Indonesia and its television programs are aired by 12 national and regional TV stations. The Service also maintains a dynamic Indonesian-language website at

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government. VOA broadcasts 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of 96 million people. Programs are produced in 44 languages.

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