Editorial: PAN Shows the Way With Leader’s Election

MARCH 02, 2015

In a rare display of political maturity by Indonesia’s elites, the National Mandate Party, known as PAN, smoothly concluded the election of a new chairman despite a tight contest between two rival candidates.

With a margin of only six votes between them, the chairmanship could have gone either way. Zulkifli Hasan, speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), collected 292 votes over Hatta Rajasa’s 286, with four spoiled ballots.

Instead of looking for mistakes and filing protests, Hatta accepted the result, thus preventing division and allowing the new chair to work for the betterment of the party. Hatta directly congratulated and endorsed Zulkifli as the new party chairman.

This show of political maturity and democracy is seldom seen in the election of party leaders in Indonesia. What we have seen in recent elections has either been deep rifts between the victors and losers, or re-election of the old guard without room for competition from younger party members.

Disputes between rival elites in Golkar and the United Development Party (PPP) after leadership elections, for instance, highlight an inability to accept defeat, or a lust for power. The deep rifts among elites in Golkar and the PPP have ruined their image among voters and threatened to make both parties irrelevant.

Meanwhile, no-contest leadership elections in Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party, Megawati Soekarnoputri’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Prabowo Subianto’s Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) and Surya Paloh’s National Democratic Party (NasDem) show that these are one-person parties.

We hope PAN’s displays of maturity could become an example of a statesmanship for our political elites in a time when the people are losing trust in politics and politicians.