It now falls to President B. J. Habibie to break the impasse. But even if he upholds the results, the winner at the polls — opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri, who garnered 36 percent of the vote compared with Habibie’s 22 percent — looks far from certain to inherit the spoils. A complex electoral process, which includes significant votes for the military and appointees of the provinces, means that despite the vote, the next president will be decided in backroom deals. "Many fear that the complicated mechanics of electing a president, designed by Suharto to minimize direct public participation, will be used to nullify Megawati’s electoral victory," says TIME Asia correspondent Anthony Spaeth. And that, of course, would leave Megawati’s supporters, who played the central role in the street protests that dispensed with the dictator, profoundly dissatisfied. Last week Megawati supporters all over the country were signing petitions demanding the presidency for their leader. The fact that they were signing in their own blood may be a sign of things to come.
Indonesia may have trouble persuading anyone to bother voting next time around. The country supposedly ended 34 years of dictatorship by going to the polls in early June to elect a new president. But the results were only announced last week, more than a month late — and then, on Monday, the process was thrown into turmoil when the country’s Electoral Commission, two thirds of which must endorse the result to make it stand, nixed the poll. Although the five major parties all gave the thumbs-up, a plethora of smaller parties represented on the commission cried fraud.