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The Golkar factional competition

  • Hanta Yuda A.R.

Jakarta | Sat, September 26 2009 | 12:06 pm

Who will replace outgoing Vice President Jusuf Kalla as the next chairman of Golkar when the party holds its congress in October? Some figures are certainly ahead in the race.

They are, among others, Aburizal Bakrie (a business tycoon and the current chief welfare minister), media tycoon Surya Paloh, and upstart Golkar legislator Yuddy Chrisnandi.

Finally, all of a sudden the youngest son of former president Soeharto, Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, also announced his intention to join the race. Tommy's sister, Siti "Tutut" Hardiyati Rukmana may also join her brother win the chairmanship of the party, which was founded by their father, Soeharto. Tommy's financial power will be able to change the party constellation.

There are least possibilities for the congress.

First, there could be four factions: Aburizal, Paloh, Yuddy and Cendana (the Soeharto clan). Of these four factions, Aburizal's and Paloh's seem to be the most prepared in terms of power and strategy. In addition, they meet all the organizational requirements.

Second, there might only be three factions: Aburizal, Paloh and Cendana. This could happen if Tutut joins the race, while Tommy and Yuddy quit. Yuddy will likely support Tutut. All of them have similar power, political capital, personality, financial strength. With the political map like this, the three factions have relatively balanced power.

Third, the race could crystallize into two blocs: Aburizal and Paloh. This could happen if the Cendana candidates are stopped by the party's rules.

The next question is, if Tommy is hampered by the organizational requirements, to whom will he divert his support? It seems the Cendana clan do not want the Golkar Party to be controlled by Aburizal and his supporters (Akbar Tandjung, Agung Laksono and Ginandjar Kartasasmita), who are considered traitors by the Cendana clan. The family would throw their weight behind Surya Paloh.

Therefore, the pattern of the Golkar congress five years ago in Bali would be likely happen again: a discourse that the Triple-A alliance (Aburizal, Akbar and Agung) would be matched by the new alliance of Paloh, Yuddy and Tommy/Tutut.

If the Triple-A tend to direct Golkar to join the government, the alliance of Paloh-Tommy-Yuddy is based on similar ideas to make the party an independent one, free from power. If this alliance could be achieved, the convention will be interesting to see. In a situation like this, it is not impossible for Paloh to win the larger battle.

Apart from the leadership issue, Golkar needs to remember it is experiencing a political famine. The indications were seen from the decline in votes from election to election during the reform era. In the 1999 elections, votes from Golkar decreased drastically from 74.1 percent to 22.3 percent. The percentage of votes dropped again in the 2004 elections, to 21.5 percent, and in the 2009 elections to 14 percent. The Golkar Party also failed in the presidential election of July 8, 2009, with candidate Kalla taking only 12 percent of votes.

There are at least four diseases eroding away at the number of votes for Golkar in the 2009 elections. The diseases are supposed to be work for the new management.

First, the political engine of the organization is less effective, because the elite are too busy enjoying the power. The political energy of the elite has been drained for external affairs, so the internal affairs lack attention.

Second, the prolonged elite factionalism has led to the weakening of the organization. Since the fall of the New Order, divisions in Golkar continue to occur.

In presidential elections from 1999 to 2009, the Golkar elite have never been united in their support of presidential and vice presidential candidates.

Third, pragmatism has undermined the militancy of Golkar members, thus causing the political engine of the organization not to run optimally.

Fourth is the decline in the quality of the recruitment system. The elite are too busy securing high positions in the government. As a result, many do not operate effectively. Some have jumped the fence, joining other parties. In addition, the pattern of recruitment of members is not based on the merit system, thus strengthening the practice of nepotism in the elite environment of the Golkar Party.

Golkar needs to take major measures to stem its declining popularity among voters.

First, reconciliation amongst factions. The momentum of defeat has to be used to consolidate the party.

Second, the ideology of revitalization to improve the militancy of the party should not undermine the organization.

Third, the regeneration of cadres should be conducted to refresh the party. Fourth, the restructuring of the organizational structure and the organizations under the party should also be performed.

Fifth, the reorientation of the leadership of the party. The leadership of the party should also pay attention to internal matters. Therefore, Golkar's future leader should be visionary, transformative, innovative and qualified in performing managerial roles.

Sixth, political repositioning should also be considered. By being outside the government, the Golkar Party will have the space and time to make corrections internally.

The six agendas of this rescue can only be done by a leader who is oriented toward bringing independence to the Golkar Party.

The writer is a political analyst and researcher at the Indonesian Institute, Jakarta.



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