At stake is the Presidency of Indonesia, to be voted for on July 9th, and there have been three names to seriously consider: Abdurizal Bakrie who bought the chairmanship of the Golkar Party, Prabowo Subianto, whose brother bankrolled his specific election vehicle Gerinda, and Joko Widodo (aka Jokowi) who few realised was a member of former President Megawati’s PDI-P until the parliamentary elections held on April 9th.
Twelve political parties contested the election, but only these ten garnered more than the 2.5% of votes cast which entitled them to seats in parliament, and therefore be part of a coalition in the government formed by the next President which takes office on October 1st..
What has been obvious to most Indonesians is that nobody, apart from his immediate family, wanted Bakrie as president, largely because of his reputation and dealings as a businessman, particularly over the Lapindo mudflow disaster in East Java and the London Stock Exchange listed Bumi Resources. Yet the Golkar Party, which was Suharto’s vehicle when it was known as the ‘Functional Party’ in his ‘guided democracy, has long had the best national organisation, and has been part of the national government since Suharto’s abdication in May 1998.
Eventually, even Bakrie recognised that he’d never be chosen by the rakyat, nor was any other party prepared to join him in a coalition with him as a potential vice president. Last week it appeared that Golkar would back Jokowi, on the off chance that the PDI-P would endorse one of their preferred nominees as vice president..
However, on Sunday, Jokowi announced that he’d picked Jusuf Kalla, the Golkar chairman displaced by Bakrie but still a member of the party, and the Jakarta Stock Exchange was well-pleased briefly. Kalla was recognised for his prominent role when he was SBY’s first vice president.
That Bakrie has self-interest at heart became obvious yesterday when it was announced that Golkar will officially back Prabowo’s bid … because Prabowo promised him a ‘senior ministerial position’ if Prabowo is elected.
Thankfully the Indonesian Presidential election is not conducted along party lines, yet if … no …, hopefully when Jokowi is elected, he’s probably not going to have a co-operative parliament. It’s key role is to ‘approve’ government sponsored legislation, but this is how the two coalitions shape up.
That SBY’s Partai Demokrat is ‘undecided’ is unsurprising, because that has been a hallmark of his last five years as president, but I suspect that it will back Jokowi.
Now that the horse trading is done, the coming campaign promises to be shrill from the Prabowo camp, and measured from Jokowi’s. As an observer, it will be interesting, but I really worry that with the fundamentalist religious parties aligned behind Prabowo and his call for “a strong nation”, we will see reformasi taking a step back into the dark ages of Suharto’s Orde Baru.’.
As his former son-in-law, Prabowo learned from the master.
Not being privy to the shenanigans in any political party, I rely on the media and vox populi to form my opinions.
It is on that basis that I’m encouraged by an article in the Jakarta Post published today headlined ‘Aburizal’s maneuvres (sic) could mark political demise‘.
This suggests that the Abominable Bakrie’s decision to trade the Golkar bloc of 91 seats in parliament for a couple of Cabinet posts in a Prabowo administration has upset the majority of the Golkar’s membership which preferred to support the Jokowi-Kalla card.
On Sunday, Bakrie was turned down by PDI-P which refused to “accept any additional coalition member particularly when that party asked for a political transaction.”
Bakrie’s action could – hopefully – upset Prabowo’s ambitions because in engaging in “political transactions” he has similarly demonstrated his own venality.