The Jakarta Post
Four cities in West Sumatra are due to elect new mayors this year, but the candidates appear to be restricted and controlled by the leadership of political parties.
The cities are Sawahlunto, which will hold its municipal election on May 16; Padangpanjang on July 4; Pariaman on Sept. 4 and the provincial capital of Padang on Oct. 30.
Sawahlunto is seeking to elect a successor to Amran Nur, who has led the city for two terms in office.
The four candidate pairs who will be vying for the total 42,786 votes comprise Ali Yusuf-Ismed; Erizal Ridwan-Emeldi; Taufik Syamsir-Nasirwan and Fauzi Hasan-Deri Asta.
Sawahlunto City Council speaker Ali from the Golkar Party is running with the council's deputy speaker, Ismed, without Golkar's consent.
Golkar is nominating Deputy Mayor Erizal and council deputy speaker Emeldi from the United Development Party (PPP).
Golkar and the PPP dominate the city council.
Sources have told The Jakarta Post that Ali was confident about not running on a Golkar ticket due to several surveys showing his high electability. It is expected that Ali will be in a close finish with Erizal.
The Padangpanjang General Elections Commission (KPUD), meanwhile, will approve the municipal candidates on May 10. There are already five pairs registered to attract 33,161 voters: Yusyafnita-Yuheldi; incumbent Deputy Mayor Edwin and his running mate, Eko Furqani; Hendri Arnis-Mawardi Samah; Sony Jendrizal Idroes-Aldia Sastra and Jon Enardi-Yurnalisman Syam.
The majority party on the Padangpanjang City Council is the National Mandate Party (PAN), which is nominating Edwin.
In Pariaman, the political scene is already heating up, although the municipal election is only slated for later this year.
Well-known political observer Indra J. Piliang is running as an independent after failing to get the nod from Golkar, the party to which he belongs. He is teaming up with local businessman Joserizal Mandai.
Local political parties will be confirming their candidates on May 11.
In Padang, Mayor Fauzi Bahar, who is also chairman of the West Sumatra chapter of PAN, is not allowed to run having already served two terms.
Deputy Mayor Mahyeldi Ansharullah from the PKS, who has high approval ratings, is believed to be running with city secretary Emzalmi.
Edi Indrizal, a political observer from Padang's Andalas University, said the candidacy process in the four cities lacked transparency, which could lead to low turnout.
He said as the 2014 general election approached, political parties tended to put their members into the local administrations while neglecting the very people who could solve the problems in those cities.
'Political parties tend not to be very transparent and get involved in political maneuvering,' he told the Post on Sunday.
He added that turnout in the cities across West Sumatra was always lower than in the regencies.
Meanwhile in Yogyakarta, Central Java gubernatorial candidate Ganjar Pranowo from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) visited former Central Java governor Mardiyanto to seek his support.
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