Jakarta (Agenzia Fides) - Choose carefully "good candidates" and express a free vote without being conditioned and exercise with responsibility. This is the appeal sent by the Indonesian Bishops' Conference (KWI) in a message, drawn up together with the Episcopal Commission for the laity, issued in view of the upcoming general elections on 17 April. In the message, sent to Agenzia Fides, the Bishops call on citizens to "consider the origin of the candidates and examine what they did for the country in the past, what they are doing these days and what they should do for Indonesia in the days to come. The country needs good and responsible politicians". The text reiterates that "it is a moral obligation of Catholics to vote and elect suitable persons for political positions".
The executive secretary of the Commission for the Laity, Fr. Paulus Christian Siswantoko, says it is important to vote "people who promote, nurture and support the democratic and pluralistic values of Indonesia, in particular by rejecting intolerance and forms of fundamentalism and violence".
Indonesia, the third largest democracy in the world, is preparing for the presidential elections on April 17th, which sees President Joko Widodo, a candidate for re-election against his rival, retired general Prabowo Subianto, former commander of Kopassus, the Indonesian military special forces. Widodo chose an Islamic religious, Maruf Amin, as his vice president in what was seen as a recognition of the growing importance of political Islam.
There are 7,968 candidates from more than 20 political parties that compete for 575 seats in the national assembly and in the local legislatures. Among the candidates, there are 151 Catholics.
Indonesia is the largest predominantly Islamic country in the world, with a population of 263 million people 90% Muslim. Christians constitute 12% of the population, with about 3% of Catholics. (SD) (Agenzia Fides, 3/4/2019)