Democratic Party faces woes on merger with smaller rival
Bagus BT Saragih and Margareth S. Aritonang
The Jakarta Post
Democratic Party officials are downplaying talk that the honeymoon for a planned merger with the New Indonesian National Sovereignty Party (PKBIB) may be over before it has begun.
Some members of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s ruling party have reportedly been afraid that the merger would mean that PKBIB members would replace them on legislative tickets touted by the Democratic Party for 2014.
“I have heard that information. I think we should not be jealous. Just focus on yourselves and don’t be bothered by others,” senior Democratic Party politician Sutan Bathoegana said on Monday.
There have also been Democratic concerns that the PKBIB, currently led by Zannuba “Yenny” Arrifah Chafsoh Rahman Wahid, the daughter of late president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid, might be allowed to propose its own candidates in 2014.
Sutan downplayed concerns that the merger would hinder the prospects of the party in 2014, saying that Yenny had wide support that could benefit the Democrats at the ballot box. “She [Yenny] is a national figure. Her joining would be good for our party.
The Democratic Party recently elected Yudhoyono chairman, ending talk that supporters of his predecessor, Anas Urbaningrum, who resigned on graft charges, would challenge Yudhoyono to lead the party.
The proposed merger with the PKBIB has been seen as an effort to attract the supporters of Gus Dur and rank-and-file members of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization, which Gus Dur previously led.
According to Sutan, Yenny would run as a legislative candidate from the Democratic Party. “She will represent the constituency of Jombang, East Java.”
However, Sutan added, not every PKBIB hopeful would be allowed to run. “We will screen them.”
Talk that Yenny would be appointed by Yudhoyono as party deputy chair has received a cold reception, with some saying that it would inappropriate for Yenny to have such a high position so soon. Yenny and Yudhoyono agreed to merge their parties after the Jakarta State Administrative High Court rejected a PKBIB bid to overturn its disqualification by the General Elections Commission’s (KPU) to run candidates in 2014.
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