General vs. the Lady in Indonesia

The first-round winner of Indonesia's first direct presidential election, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has a prediction. The former military general expects the campaign leading up to the Sept. 20 final round will be "hot."

Let's hope not. Since democracy returned to this giant Southeast Asian nation in 1998, its 220 million people have largely been peaceful in electing leaders, despite a legacy of violent civil strife. That can only inspire people in Asia's remaining nondemocracies.

Despite being mainly Muslim, Indonesians have preferred secular rulers. They've avoided sharp policy debates, turned out to vote in enviable percentages, and indicated they want security against terrorists and leaders who can boost the economy.

Mr. Yudhoyono failed to win the necessary 50 percent of the votes in the first round on Monday. He's a political newcomer and lacks a big organization. In the next round, he'll probably face the apparent second-place finisher, President Megawati Sukarnoputri, once the final vote tally is known in a few days.

In a campaign that pits "the general against the lady," perhaps the rhetoric will be hot. Ms. Megawati, while largely a passive president, is a tough campaigner. But both have a stake in nurturing this young democracy.

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