Since December, the Golkar Party has been split into two camps: those loyal to the incumbent chairman Aburizal Bakrie, and those supporting the pro-government Agung Laksono. (SP Photo)

Pain Predicted at Polls for Perfidious Parties


APRIL 06, 2015

Jakarta. At least three political parties will suffer in this year’s regional election, analysts predicted on Sunday, with two engulfed in a prolonged power struggle and the other showing no signs of any succession in leadership.

The Golkar Party, the United Development Party (PPP) and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) all have some tough times ahead, according to Masykuruddin Hafidz, a researcher at the People’s Voter Education Network (JPPR).

The PPP and Golkar have been split since last year over rival claims to their chairmanships.

Golkar, the second-biggest caucus in the House of Representatives, is now divided into two factions: those supporting the chairmanship of Agung Laksono and those loyal to incumbent Aburizal Bakrie.

Meanwhile, the PPP’s chairmanship is contested between former minister Djan Faridz and the party’s former secretary general, Muhammad Romahurmuziy.

Masykuruddin said the two parties must resolve their disputes soon if they seek to avoid pain at the polls. 

“If they don’t resolve their conflicts immediately, their constituents will abandon the parties. That’s not to mention the possibility of being disqualified by the KPU because of their squabbles,” he said, referring to the General Elections Commission. 

This year, 204 governors, district heads and mayors’ terms will expire, according to the Home Affairs Ministry, which is responsible for scheduling simultaneous elections in December for these offices.

According to the KPU, candidates must register their bids by July, requiring candidates to obtain an endorsement letter from their party’s national leadership board. 

The Justice Ministry has recognized Romahurmuziy and Agung as the chairmen of the PPP and Golkar, respectively. 

Complicating this, however, is a ruling by the Jakarta State Administrative Court (PTUN), which annulled the ministry’s decision in the PPP dispute. The same court recently suspended the ministry’s decision regarding Golkar’s leadership pending a final ruling. 

Masykuruddin predicts that even if the PPP and Golkar managed to settle their disputes in time to register candidates for regional elections, it will be hard to regain voters’ confidence.

The voters see “the PPP and Golkar conflicts as having more to do with the interests of a few elites inside the parties for their own benefit,” he said. 

Another party predicted to perform badly this election is the PDI-P, but for a totally different reason. 

“The PDI-P and its chairwoman, Megawati Soekarnoputri, have been interfering too much in Jokowi’s administration,” he said, refering to President Joko Widodo.

Masykuruddin said voters view the PDI-P as having dictated Joko’s cabinet appointments and the controversial nomination of a former Megawati aide as police chief. 

That interference “has made it hard for Jokowi to execute his programs early in his administration,” Masykuruddin said.

Ikrar Nusa Bakti, a senior political researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), said PDI-P voters may also be put off by Megawati’s refusal to give way for others to lead the party. 

The PDI-P is scheduled to hold a national congress from April 9-12, but party stalwart Tjahjo Kumolo, the home minister, said on Sunday that Megawati was slated to continue, uncontested, as chair of the nation’s biggest political party for a fifth consecutive term.

The congress will instead focus on finding a new secretary general, a post Tjahjo gave up to become minister. 

Golkar and the PDI-P have the most to lose in this year’s elections; Golkar in particular has previously enjoyed broad electoral support at the regional level and holds gubernatorial, district head and mayoral offices.

Aburizal has asked the KPU to accept consent letters on Golkar’s behalf with his signature, arguing that as the incumbent chairman, his leadership is still technically recognized by the government until a successor is definitively named.

“Until the PTUN makes its final ruling, the faction authorized to stand for election is Aburizal’s,” Golkar member Ridwan Bae said on Sunday. 

Meanwhile Romahurmuziy’s PPP said the KPU should accept consent letters bearing his signature. He contends that irrespective of the court’s ruling, his chairmanship is still technically recognized by the government. 

Titi Anggraeni, coordinator of the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem), said the KPU was unlikely to accept either argument until all sides had exhausted their legal options. 

“The parties’ conflicts must be resolved first,” she said. “There is no way the KPU [will recognize one camp] and get trapped in the squabble.” 

Titi predicts that many incumbents and candidates will abandon Golkar and the PPP as deadline nears if no resolution is in sight. 

She added, however, that the PDI-P still had a chance of electing candidates, an outcome attributable to a political calculus at play in regional elections wherein candidates’ electability takes precedence to political dynamics at the national level. 

The PDI-P’s vote “may be impacted [...] but it won’t be significant,” she said.