Indonesia counts votes in parliamentary election; Japan and US trade officials meet; 24 killed in Islamabad shopping mall terror attack; new French PM passes confidence vote; and more 

Top of the Agenda

Indonesia Counts Votes in Crucial Power Transition

Indonesia voted for a new parliament on Wednesday as the world's third-largest democracy faces a crucial transition of power. Initial poll results showed the main opposition party, the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle, in the lead (FT). With President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono stepping down in October after reaching his two-term limit, Indonesians are choosing a new House of Representatives—a process that takes place every five years (Reuters) and determines which parties can nominate candidates for July's highly-anticipated presidential election. The main opposition's presidential candidate, Joko Widodo, the popular governor of Jakarta, is leading national polls (NYT) and has pledged a "more people-centric" style of governance.

Analysis

"As Bakrie calls on the ghost of Suharto, Jokowi is rekindling the idealist Sukarno of the independence era, when many saw Indonesia as having a bright future—while, at the same time, blazing his own identity," writes Nithin Coca for al-Jazeera.

"Behind the razzmatazz of the election, a bit more is at stake than how well Jokowi's party fares. The lower house is not the rubber-stamp institution it was under Suharto. Indonesia's next president will have to work with it, not least to pass a $160 billion-odd budget," writes the Economist.

"Southeast Asia's biggest economy has thrived since recovering from the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98 but it faces a growing list of challenges, from rising social inequality to entrenched corruption and overstretched infrastructure to slowing economic growth," writes Ben Bland for the Financial Times.

 

Pacific Rim

Japan, U.S. Talk TPP

Japanese and U.S. trade officials met Wednesday to discuss outstanding issues (Japan Times) surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership, including Japanese tariffs on farm goods and auto trade concerns. The bid to break the stalemate comes ahead of U.S. president Barack Obama's visit to Tokyo in two weeks.

This CFR interview delves into Japan's push for the TPP.

ELSEWHERE:

24 killed in Islamabad shopping mall attack

New French PM passes confidence vote

This is an excerpt of the CFR.org Daily News Brief. The full version is available on CFR.org 

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