It’s official: Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) has beaten the incumbent, Megawati Sukarnoputri (Bu Mega), in Indonesia’s first direct presidential election. The final score is 61% to 39%, which is a pretty sound drubbing by any political standard. Rationally, any candidate like Bu Mega facing bad poll numbers should moderate her policies towards those of her opponent, thereby capturing a larger share of the electorate. However, this assumes that the candidates actually campaign on policies, and that these policies map to a single dimension. These assumptions did not bear out in this election.
As a further note, SBY (pronounced “EHS BEH YEH”) has just received his doctorate in agroeconomics from Bogor Institute of Agriculture. He managed to complete this impressive degree in just three years, while simultaneously holding a cabinet-level position in Mega’s government, planning his takeover, and running for president. His dissertation title was “Agricultural and Rural Developmet as a Means to Overcome Poverty and Unemployment: An Economic and Political Analysis of Fiscal Politics,” which sounds to us suspiciously like a book report. Look out, Bill Clinton, there’s a new brain in town!