As Indonesia’s 2009 presidential election draws near, the country is getting its first ever taste of negative TV ads. Some in the country are decrying the ads, which by American standards are tame.

From the Jakarta Globe:

“Following the first-ever incidents of television ‘attack’ advertisements in the country’s electoral politics, election and broadcast officials are being urged to step in to prevent the political atmosphere from degenerating further as the April 9 polls fast approach.

Described as provocative by one politician and mean-spirited by others, a series of ads this month among three leading political parties exchanging what appear to be personal cheap shots could push the campaign into uncharted waters and overshadow debate about economic and social issues…”

Among the negative spots is an ad criticizing Indonesia’s current president for not doing enough to improve the country’s welfare system. That spawned a response that, according to the Jakarta Globe, “contrasted the achievements ” of the current president with those of his opponents.

Sounds like a race that would be a hallmark of good civil discourse here in the U.S.

In Indonesia, though, the ads could be illegal. The Indonesian Broadcasting Commission and Election Supervisory Body are apparently looking into whether the ads violate the country’s election laws, particularly the section mandating that “campaign materials should not attack other groups, people or political parties.”

Shane D’Aprile is Senior Editor at Politics magazine.