Observing the U.S. Election: Medan, Indonesia

Election Events: U.S. Embassy in Medan, Indonesia

As submitted by embassy staff

I lead the American Presence Post in Medan, the largest city on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. My job is dedicated to reaching out to Sumatrans and encouraging stronger relationships with America, in areas like education, business, and environmental preservation. We also work closely with Indonesia to build capacity in this relatively new democracy, so Election Day was a perfect opportunity to share the U.S. experience and clarify how our own democracy works. At my home, 250 guests from business, academia, politics and civil society gathered to watch the results roll in on a big screen and to participate in a series of short discussions about elements of U.S. democracy that differ from Indonesia: a 2-party system, the electoral college and more. We encouraged guests to use Twitter to discuss the election in real time, with their tweets keyed to the Embassy’s election hashtag and beamed onto a wall for all to enjoy. Indonesian-language booklets on democracy and the U.S. election process flew off info tables. We showed a sampling of campaign ads from each side, so visitors could see how the candidates tried to woo voters, and then I gave a talk on campaign finance to explain how it’s all paid for. People asked great questions, like: what’s the role of small parties, and how many women are in Congress? The American principal at Medan International School explained how we teach democracy to our future generations through civic education. Our mock election predictably went overwhelmingly in the incumbent’s favor; Indonesians are partial to the President who spent part of his childhood here. And at last: A rousing cheer went up as President Obama reached the benchmark of 270 electoral college votes. It was a great morning to represent the U.S. in Indonesia.

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Additional photos of election events can be found at http://www.facebook.com/medan.usconsulate.

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