Government officials and members of the ruling Golkar Party in this East Java region have pulled out all stops in Indonesia's national elections, which began yesterday.
Official doctrine in the contrary, distinctions between Golkar, the bureaucracy and the army have all but vanished during the campaign . Rulebooks went out the window as worried officials worked to meet party voting targets. They have been told that their jobs depend upon it.
It was a common sight here to see civil servants lining up outsided their offices after work to march off to Golkar rallies, shepherded by troops giving the Golkar two-finger hand signal.
Some 60 million Indonesians voted yesterday in the elections for a new national parliament as well as for regional and local assemblies. Results of the vote - the first election here since 1971 and only the third in 31 years - are not expected for several days.
The government's theme in areas such as Kediri Regency, a rural area of about 1.1 million people in East Java, was that the government of President Suharto had brought security, peace and development.
The local Golkar leader, R. S. Chamball won cheers from 3,000 residents of the small village of Praggan when he campaigned there a couple of weeks ago.
It is a region that was loyal to the now-shattered and banned Indonesian Communist Party, and the town gave Chambali, then an army lieutenant colonel, a much different reception when he was a candidate 15 years ago.
Since then, the Communists have been decimated. Many of those still alive are still in jail. The retribution following the Communists' abortive coup in 1965 is reported to have included the execution of thousands of local party leaders and suspects.
Chambali, retired by the time of the coup attempt, came back as a Golkar stalwart. He catalogued the gains of the last five years; Motorcycles, bicycles, television sets and radios have come to the villages, he said; electricity is being expanded to villages and local health centers, and schools have been built.
Yet, despite government claims to have won genuine respect, a hig Golkar vote in Kediri and other rural areas will be testimony as much to the government's control as to its popularity.
While Kediri appears to have been relatively free of violence and coercion, opposition parties report dozens of arbitrary detentions, beatings and threats.
A heavy-handed security and intelligence network is run by the Interior Ministry and the army. A security agent was present at all my interviews.
All this has led the opposition, particularly the Moslem-based Development Unity Party. to campaign on a theme of "rule of law."
"We all stand behind President Suharto and his government. We do not want to change the laws. What we want is for the existing laws to be applied. We want rule according to law," said an influential Moslem leader.
Even in this atmosphere, the Moslem-based party is conducting a strong campaign. Its meetings have been crowded and party activits defied government intimidation.
While the government has charged that the party wants to create an Islamic state, the rule-of-law issue has given the Development Unity Party a link outside its religious base with the other opposition group, the nationalist-leaning Indonesian Democratic Party.
The issue is a powerful one, since the undoubted achievements of the Suharto government have far from eradicated the underlying problems of poverty and overpopulation that led to unrest and Communist growth 15 years ago.
Whether the opposition can articulate these problems is another matter, since direct criticism of the goverment is virtually forbidden and the parties admit that their main enemy is fear of official retribution if the Golkar vote is low.