Jakarta. As many have predicted, Airlangga Hartarto was re-elected as chairman of the Golkar Party by acclamation on Wednesday evening, after main rival Bambang Soesatyo dropped his candidacy.
None of the leaders of Golkar's regional chapters stepped up to challenge Airlangga's re-election bid during the party's national congress at the Ritz Charlton Hotel in South Jakarta. Each of them proposed that Airlangga be reappointed as chairman until 2024.
Aziz Syamsuddin, who chaired the meeting, had asked if there was a challenger to Airlangga.
"Is there any other candidate aside from Mr. Airlangga?" Aziz said.
"No," the audience replied in chorus.
Aziz then banged the gavel to confirm Airlangga's re-election.
Airlangga, 57, has been leading Golkar since December 2017. He had replaced Setya Novanto, who was forced to leave the post prematurely after being convicted of corruption.
Securing the top post in Indonesia's second-largest party is a double-win for Airlangga, who also got a promotion from President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in October to become the new coordinating minister for the economy.
His only potential hurdle in Golkar was Bambang, the speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), the country's highest law-making body.
But Bambang decided to drop his bid for the Golkar chairmanship mere hours before the congress started on Tuesday after a meeting with Airlangga brokered by another Golkar powerhouse, the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan.
That left Airlangga as the only central figure during the congress and he became so popular that several party executives asked him to run for the 2024 presidential election.
"With his ability, that many have mentioned, the Golkar Party should let him run in the next presidential election," veteran party member Agung Laksono told congress participants.
His view was shared by leaders of Golkar's Bali chapter and several other executives of the party.
"We from the Bali chapter had asked Mr. Airlangga to run for president in 2024," chapter leader Gde Sumarjaya Linggih said.