At Home With Aburizal Bakrie on Election Day

By : webadmin | on 1:36 PM April 09, 2014
Category : News, Politics

unnamed (1) Golkar presidential candidate Aburizal Bakrie poses with an enthusiastic mother and reluctant daughter on Jalan Tegal in Menteng, Central Jakarta, on the morning of April 9. (JG Photo/Benjamin Soloway)

Business tycoon Aburizal Bakrie, the Golkar Party's chairman and presidential candidate, arrived at his local polling station — an elementary school on Jalan Tegal in Menteng, Central Jakarta — at around 11 a.m., surrounded by family members and a posse of advisers, unfazed by the scrum of journalists and gawkers pushing into position around him.

He voted, held up his inked pinky for the cameras, and began a slow stroll home, stopping to wave to supporters and to pose for a photograph with a young girl placed eagerly into his arms by her mother.

As he rounded the corner, just past the mounted police guarding the polls — who were attracting far more attention than he from the neighborhood children, and from some adults — an aide handed him a hand wipe for his finger.

unnamed Bakrie speaks to a reporter from Kompas TV outside his home in Menteng. (JG Photo/Benjamin Soloway)

As he passed through the gates of his imposing house on Jalan Kh. Mangun Sarkoro, several blocks from the school, aides waved members of the media inside, to an antechamber where food and drinks were waiting. News teams milled about, taking in the sights: the compound's various white buildings, a colonnade, a large fountained pool, careful landscaping, and the main house — a large, ornamented cube of an edifice. The candidate helped himself to a plate place of rice with chicken and crispy shallots. He ate alone at a table, taking small bites.

Without warning, an aide emerged from a side door and said that the candidate would speak with me for a moment.

I sat down across from Bakrie. He asked why I wasn't eating.

"I hope that the general elections will be good for Indonesia," he said. "People should vote for the party that they like, not just based on the candidate."

unnamed (4) Bakrie's house in Menteng. (JG Photo/Benjamin Soloway)

He was referring, presumably, to polling figures suggesting that popular Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) presidential candidacy would boost the party's legislative prospects.

"Many people thought that one party will get 35 percent of the vote because of one person," he said. "We can see from the surveys that no party has more than 20 to 23 percent."

He said that the legislative elections would not determine the outcome of the presidential race in July.

unnamed (3) Bakrie serves himself lunch. (JG Photo/Benjamin Soloway)

"Of course there is some connection [between the legislative and presidential] elections, but not much," he said. "Sometimes the party that has the most votes in the legislative elections does not do as well in the presidential election."

No matter the outcome of the elections, he said, the parties would have to find ways to cooperate.

I asked him whether he thought turnout might be disappointing by recent standards.

"By US standards?" he replied, referencing the United States' less-than-stellar history of participation.

"Whoever is president will be supported by a coalition in the [legislature]," he said. "Nobody will get more than 30 percent."

He nodded to an aide — my time was up.

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