Headlines

Ratu Atut family stumbles
in Tangerang

Ahmed Zaki Iskandar won the most votes in the regency election in Tangerang, Banten, that was held on Sunday, according to a quick count.

Zaki, the son of incumbent Tangerang Regent Ismet Iskandar, has apparently beat Aden Abdul Khalik, the brother in-law of Banten Governor Ratu Atut Chosiyah, who critics have said was attempting to establish a political dynasty in the province.

While Zaki’s victory may reflect the victory of another political family, Aden’s defeat is a blow to Ratu Atut‘s reported ambitions to expand her family’s political clout.

A quick count conducted by Saiful Muzani Research and Consulting (SMRC) said that Ahmed and his running mate, Hermansyah, garnered 57.18 percent of the vote, followed by Ahmad Suwandi and Muhlis (17.87 percent), Aden and Suryana (14.41 percent) and Ahmad Subadri and Muhamad Aufar Hutapea (10.54 percent).

“The margin of error for this quick count is 2 percent,” Grace Natalie, the pollster’s chief, told journalists at a press conference, attributing Zaki’s victory to the success of his father in leading the regency over the last five years.

Zaki was backed by a coalition of seven political parties: the Golkar Party, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), the People’s Conscience Party (Hanura), the National Awakening Party (PKB), the Star Reform Party (PBR) and the Crescent Star Party (PBB).

Subadri and Aufar were endorsed by the Democratic Party, while Suwandi and Muhlis were backed by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the National Mandate Party (PAN).

Third-place finisher Aden, who is the incumbent chairman of Banten’s Indonesian Youth Committee (KNPI), was backed by the United Development Party (PPP), the Indonesian Nahdlatul Ulama Party (PNUI), the Concern for the Nation’s Function Party (PKPB) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Ratu Atut has denied claims that her family has been trying to control key political posts in the province, although her relatives are fixtures in Banten’s political scene. Her eldest son, Andika Hazrumy, for example, is said to be considering running for mayor of Tangerang municipality in 2013 mayoral election.

Andika currently represents Banten in the Regional Representatives Council (DPD).

Meanwhile, one observer has dismissed claims from Aden that his bid was not supported by family’s political clout. “It’s just hard to believe,” said an academic at Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa University who declined to be named.

“How could he finance his campaign without support from the rich dynasty? As far as I know, he does not have enough wealth to support himself for the election,” the source said.

Aden was not backed by the Golkar, of which he and Ratu Atut are members. According to speculation, the governor reportedly forged a deal with Ismet for him to support her re-election bid if she stayed away from 2012 Tangerang regent election to pave the way for his eldest son, Zaki, who is also a Golkar Party politician.

Should Andika win the election in Tangerang City, the governor’s family will control the top posts in two of the three local administrations in the regency. Ratu Atut’s sister in-law, Airin Rachmi Diany, is the incumbent South Tangerang mayor.

In other regencies and municipalities in Banten, the family’s political influence remains strong.

The governor’s daughter-in-law, Adde Khairunnisa, is the deputy speaker of the Serang Legislative Council, her stepsister Ratu Tatu Chasanah is Serang deputy regent, her stepmother is Pandeglang deputy regent and her stepbrother Tb. Chaerul Jaman is now Serang mayor.

Meanwhile, her younger brother Tb Haeri Wardana is a businessman involved in government development projects across the province.

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