The Democratic Party’s Supreme Assembly has called on the leaders of all the party’s chapters to tow the party line in the election of the new party chairman, which is slated for later this month.
The Supreme Assembly is said to have threatened the party’s local leaders into accepting their decision or else they will face punishment if they do not support the sole party chairman candidate proposed by the party’s chief patron, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Yudhoyono will publicly announce a candidate of his preference prior to the start of the Democratic Party extraordinary congress to be held on March 30-31 in Denpasar, Bali, according to assembly member Jero Wacik.
“It could be a day or even an hour before the congress starts. The point is that all party executives, including local chapters from all provinces, regencies and municipalities, must obey the directives of Yudhoyono,” said Jero, who is also the energy and mineral resources minister.
“The congress will be a test of loyalty. I would be surprised if there was a party chapter that objected Yudhoyono’s proposal. How dare they?” he added.
Jero said punishment would be certain in the event of objections, but declined to give more details.
“I’m sure no single party chapter will reject Yudhoyono’s candidate. Even I, a party patron and a minister, would never dare to oppose Yudhoyono,” Jero said.
Member of the party’s board of patrons and Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises Minister Syariefuddin Hasan, also known as a Yudhoyono loyalist, said the upcoming congress would be staged so that members would agree to a candidate nominated by Yudhoyono.
Syariefuddin, however, insisted that the congress could still be deemed democratic. “I disagree with the so-called analysts. I don’t see anything wrong with it because other parties have done it too,” he said.
Both Jero and Syariefuddin claimed the assembly had yet to determine who Yudhoyono’s pick would be.
A number of Democratic Party politicians have been touted as nominees, including party secretary-general and Yudhoyono’s youngest son Edhie “Ibas” Baskoro Yudhoyono, former party chairman and Yudhoyono’s in-law Hadi Utomo, party patron and Law and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsuddin, party patron and East Java Governor Soekarwo, as well as party executive director Toto Riyanto.
Party deputy secretary-general Saan Mustofa, known as an Anas’ loyalist, has said he was ready to contest the selection process.
Party patron and House of Representatives speaker Marzuki Alie has also been touted as one of the strongest candidates as he is expected to receive votes from Anas supporters.
Some party members confirmed that Marzuki and Anas had begun exploring a possible “alliance” ahead of the congress, with Marzuki being asked to push for an amendment to party statutes in exchange for votes from Anas’ supporters.
When asked, Jero said an amendment to the party statute in the upcoming congress was “a possibility”.
Political analyst Hanta Yuda, the executive director of the Pol-Tracking Institute, said that the assembly’s threats to the party’s local chapters were a result of Yudhoyono’s growing anxieties about a possible Marzuki alliance with Anas.