People’s Democratic Party Aims to Offer Anti-Elite Alternative in 2019 Elections

Ballot boxes seen in a file photo from 2014. (AFP Photo/Juni Kriswanto)

By : Yustinus Paat | on 8:35 AM March 28, 2015
Category : News, Politics

Jakarta. The People’s Democratic Party, or PRD, once accused by the military of having ties to the banned Communist Party of Indonesia, or PKI, (as well as, more innocuously, to Amnesty International) has said it plans to field a slate of contenders in the 2019 national legislative elections.

The PRD elected its new chairman, Agus Jaco Priyono, during a convention in Central Jakarta on Thursday.

The newly elected chairman said he had formulated a strategy to allow the PRD to pass the government’s stringent requirements for participating in the national election.

Under a 2011 law, parties are required to have at least 1,000 members throughout the country’s 33 provinces. Parties must also have at least 30 registered members in each province. They also need permanent offices and members in 75 percent of all districts and half of all subdistricts.

The law has disqualified many parties from elections in the past, including some founded by prominent politicians and backed by wealthy donors.

Only 12 parties were allowed to compete in the national election last year, down from 33 parties in the 2009 election.

The PRD has never qualified for any election, whether nationally or locally, since it was founded in 1996.

Agus is confident he can change that.

“We will create [support] bases in all levels through our advocacy programs touching social, political and economic issues. In general our political strategy is to get all our political [allies] and unite them into one platform,” he said.

The party grew from 1980s labor movements and students critical of former dictator Suharto’s iron-fisted rule.

Suharto’s New Order regime responded to the party’s establishment by blaming it for staging the July 27, 1996, attack on the headquarters of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI). But many contend the attack was orchestrated by Suharto himself to tighten his hold on power and oust Megawati Soekarnoputri as the PDI chair.

Although abandoned by its founders, Agus says the PRD offers an alternative to existing political parties run as cults of personality by an elite few.

“We are targeting young people, clean and idealistic people and nationalists,” he said.

 

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