Editorial: Golkar and accountability
Paper Edition | Page: 6
Apparently, being the oldest political party in the country — with abundant experience of political maneuvering as well as a strong and nearly impeccable political machinery structure nationwide — the Golkar Party took a giant step forward ahead of other political parties when it officially announced on Sunday the nomination of chairman Aburizal Bakrie as its candidate for the 2014 presidential election.
The nomination of Aburizal is a bold and speculative decision of a political party that has suffered ups and downs throughout the country’s modern political history. Practically being the sole player in domestic politics at times of the Soeharto presidency, and then later on sorely condemned for abuses of power during Soeharto’s 32-year reign, Golkar, however, has managed to remain within the top-two in subsequent 1999, 2004 and 2009 legislative elections.
Such an early nomination of a presidential candidate was partly triggered by the decreasing popularity of the Democratic Party, the 2009 legislative election winner, the image of which had been tarnished by a series of corruption cases implicating senior executives and politicians, and partly by Golkar’s confidence in achieving a more sizable victory in the 2014 election.
By nominating Aburizal, Golkar is also confident that the party and Aburizal can handle several tricky issues that have haunted them both, particularly the Lapindo mud flow disaster and Aburizal’s low approval rating among the electorate.
The party’s move to nominate Aburizal two years ahead of the presidential election, however, obviously displays the continuing problem of democratic regeneration in the country’s political party system: a political dynasty in a majority of political parties.
The party’s endorsement of Aburizal’s nomination was made after a three-day National Leadership Meeting of the party in Bogor, West Java, officially named him as the only candidate from the party to contest the 2014 presidential election. His nomination came at the expense of Jusuf Kalla, former vice president and former chairman of Golkar, who had lost his Golkar ticket to run for the presidency and had also been reprimanded not to run on another political party’s ticket in the 2014 election — a move that if permitted, is largely believed to have the potential to deal a blow to Aburizal’s electability in the poll.
Through the national leadership meeting mechanism, the nomination process has effectively driven out a “party member” who does not belong to the party’s elite and has thus neglected the principles of democracy, transparency and financial accountability.
It must be remembered that the organization of every political party, including Golkar, is partly financed by the state budget, a greater portion of which is contributed by the taxpayers’ money. It is therefore reasonable if the general public demands transparency and accountability from a political party, including in relation to the nomination of its presidential candidate, so as to eliminate undemocratic practices as mandated in the 1945 Constitution.
Perhaps Aburizal has learned a lesson from the failure of then Golkar chairman Akbar Tandjung, who lost his ticket for the presidency in the 2004 election after the “convention system” which the latter introduced in order to select the party’s best presidential candidate. But again, Aburizal’s nomination via the national leadership mechanism has neglected the democratic principles of a modern organization, whose activities are partly financed by the Indonesian public.
In this case, Aburizal — and Golkar — must be held accountable before the general public for all activities within the party, including the nomination of Aburizal as its presidential candidate.
Selected comments will be published in the Readers’ Forum page of our print newspaper.