With the presidential election only two years away, Golkar chairman Aburizal Bakrie has demonstrated his strong intention to become the party’s presidential aspirant through maneuvers that some feel could irk others in his party.
Aburizal has rejected the idea of holding a convention that would pave the way for other party members to compete to be named the party’s presidential candidate for the 2014 election.
Instead, he chose to organize a National Leadership Meeting (Rapimnas), which is easier to control. The meeting is slated to be held in July, three months ahead of the original date set.
Aburizal denied that the leadership meeting was a ploy to thwart the candidacy of former party chairmen Jusuf Kalla and Akbar Tandjung — two Golkar politicians that many feel are more popular than he is.
“We will give equal chance for all. But if the national leadership meeting has made a decision, be it Akbar Tandjung, myself or Jusuf Kalla, we all have to go with the decision,” Aburizal said before a meeting attended by Golkar members who hold executive posts in the regions, in Jakarta on Saturday.
Separately, Golkar deputy chairman Fadel Muhammad said that Aburizal would be named Golkar’s only candidate because no other person had stepped up to be nominated.
“So far, there is only Aburizal and he is our strong candidate,” he said on Saturday.
Fadel dismissed rumors that the decision to bring forward the leadership meeting from October to July was aimed at preventing other members, including Jusuf Kalla, from being nominated as the party’s presidential aspirant.
“We just want to have a presidential aspirant by August, when it’s the fasting month of Ramadhan. And we will not hold a convention to select our presidential aspirant because that mechanism was dropped during Jusuf Kalla’s term as Golkar’s chairman,” he told The Jakarta Post.
Golkar lawmaker Nurul Arifin said that 26 of Golkar’s 33 regional branches had pledged their support for Aburizal as the party’s presidential aspirant.
“The party will make its final decision during the Rapimnas,” she said.
On Saturday, the party held a meeting at its headquarters in Jakarta, which was attended by its members who hold power in regional and local administrations. The members pledged that they would pave the way for Aburizal to become Indonesia’s next president.
In the meeting, Aburizal said that Golkar’s popularity continued to rise in the country. “We aim to gain 30 percent of the votes in 2014,” he said, prompting thundering applause from the Golkar members.
He urged Golkar’s members to regularly meet with their constituents ahead of the 2014 legislative elections to ensure their success during the elections.
Aburizal has attended a series of road shows that have visited many regencies and cities in Indonesia. He visited Sukabumi and Cianjur in West Java early this month.
Previously, the Indonesian Survey Institute revealed that Aburizal was less popular than both Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri and Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party chairman Prabowo Subianto.
Another survey conducted by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) placed Aburizal in fourth place in terms of popularity after Megawati, Prabowo and Jusuf Kalla. (tas)