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Jakarta Post

Candidates unite to stop Aburizal

  • Hasyim Widhiarto

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, November 24, 2014   /  08:25 am

In a race against time, Golkar Party politicians challenging the leadership of Aburizal Bakrie have decided to jointly propose one candidate to challenge Aburizal'€™s reelection bid in the party'€™s national congress next week.

Golkar deputy chairman Agung Laksono, who announced earlier this year his intention to run as a Golkar chairman candidate, confirmed on Sunday that he and other hopeful candidates had been discussing the details of such a joint attack strategy.

'€œ[The discussion] is ongoing. We are hoping to wrap it up as soon as possible,'€ Agung told The Jakarta Post.

As of last week, seven Golkar politicians '€” Agung, lawmakers Airlangga Hartarto, Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita and Zainudin Amali, party executive Hajriyanto Thohari, former industry minister MS Hidayat and former lawmaker Priyo Budi Santoso '€” have declared that they will challenge Aburizal in the party'€™s upcoming national congress.

Agung, however, refused to reveal whether the politicians would endorse one of them or pick an alternative candidate to challenge Aburizal.

The seven candidates have repeatedly expressed their criticism over Aburizal'€™s plan to run for a second leadership term despite his lack of achievement in Golkar, one of the country'€™s oldest political parties, over the past five years.

In this year'€™s legislative election, Golkar came second behind the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and failed to endorse its own candidate for the 2014 presidential election.

Aburizal'€™s decision to support the unsuccessful presidential bid of Gerindra Party'€™s Prabowo Subianto has also landed Golkar outside the ruling circle for the first time in the party'€™s 50-year history.

Should rival factions succeed in toppling Aburizal, Golkar would likely join the PDI-P and its coalition partners '€” the NasDem Party, the National Awakening Party (PKB), the Hanura Party and the United Development Party (PPP) '€” in the government.

Golkar internal rules stipulate that in order to be elected chairman, a candidate must garner support from the majority of more than 500 available votes '€” which represent the party'€™s central board and its branches, chapters and affiliated organizations '€” at a Golkar national congress.

The party'€™s latest congress in 2009 elected Aburizal Golkar'€™s ninth chairman until the party'€™s next scheduled congress in 2015.

However, the party'€™s national leaders meeting (Rapimnas) last week decided that the congress would be held from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4, disappointing Aburizal'€™s political contenders who have less than two weeks to prepare for their candidacy.

'€œFor me, [the internal] political dynamics of Golkar are no longer stimulating. I think I'€™m no longer interested in taking further part in the party,'€ Hajriyanto, a former People Consultative Assembly (MPR) deputy speaker, said, responding to the sudden announcement.

Should he manage to win his reelection bid, the 68-year-old Aburizal will be the first Golkar chairman to do so since the party was established in 1964.

Aburizal, meanwhile, insisted during the Rapimnas that the decision to reschedule the congress did not violate the party'€™s statutes and organizational rules.

Jakarta-based Poltracking Institute researcher Agung Baskoro considered a plan to force a head-to-head race for the Golkar leadership position to be insufficient to topple Aburizal since none of his contenders currently hold a strategic public post that might help boost their popularity.

An endorsement from Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who is also a former Golkar chairman, Agung added, would likely help Aburizal'€™s contenders increase their leverage in front of the party regional executives.

'€œAs a respected party member, there is no doubt that Kalla still possesses great influence among Golkar regional leaders,'€ he said.

Kalla has yet to endorse a particular candidate for the race.

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