Change a common theme as hustings end

Change a common theme as hustings end
Indonesia president and head of the Democratic Party Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono gives a speech to his supporters during a presidential election campaign event in Jakarta April 3, 2014. Though he cannot run again by law, the Democrats will carry on with unfinished work, he said.

Over the past three weeks, they criss-crossed the country to rally their supporters, charm crowds and challenge their opponents.

As campaigning for the April 9 general election drew to a close yesterday, leaders of the 12 political parties contesting nationwide made their final pitches at rallies before a three-day campaign silence kicks in today.

Democratic Party's chairman, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, asked a packed stadium in Sidoarjo, East Java, to look back to where their country was 10 years ago, when he took charge, and consider the gains it has made today.

Though he cannot run again by law, the Democrats will carry on with unfinished work, he said.

Wednesday's vote will be the fourth nationwide one since the fall of strongman Suharto in 1998, and observers say many Indonesians want to see change, however, partly because they feel they have not enjoyed a fair share of the country's growth in recent years in spite of its democratisation.

What form this change should take, though, was a theme speakers touched on.

In nearby Surabaya, Golkar chairman Aburizal Bakrie appealed to popular nostalgia for the Suharto era, introducing two daughters of former president Suharto who said voters should elect his party if they wanted living conditions to be akin to those in the 1990s.

Also in Surabaya, Gerindra patron Prabowo Subianto said the democratic gains the country had made over the past 16 years were being hijacked by "thieves" who were responsible for keeping many poor.

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