The Jakarta Post
Political parties need to think of the reasons why a prominent figure like Jakarta Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama has opted to seek reelection as an independent candidate rather than wait on the possibility of earning a nomination from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), which has hinted at throwing its support behind him, political experts say.
Political parties have to sort issues out internally so that they can drive democracy in this country, said Siti Zuhro, a senior political analyst with the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).
She said that the phenomenon of independent candidacies was further indication of public dissatisfaction in regard to the performance of members of the House of Representatives and regional legislative councils (DPRD).
Ahok is the latest figure to declare himself an independent candidate in the Jakarta gubernatorial election in 2017. In the 2012 Jakarta gubernatorial election, noted economist Faisal Basri and retired general Hendardji Soepandji also ran as independent candidates.
Ahok announced his decision on Monday and picked Jakarta Financial and Asset Management Board (BPKAD) head Heru Budi Hartono as his deputy candidate after his one-week deadline to pledge support was ignored by the PDI-P.
Ahok has said that he cannot shoulder the Rp 100 billion (US$7.66 million) in costs that are incurred running as a party-backed candidate.
PDI-P politician Prasetio Edi Marsudi, who is also Jakarta City Council speaker, criticized Ahok, saying that Ahok's move was part of an effort to weaken political parties.
Meanwhile, dean of the School of Law at Bung Karno University, Daniel Panda, agreed that the Ahok's move was a loss for political parties, particularly the PDI-P, but warned the party against continuously criticizing the Jakarta governor as doing so could have negative effects.
"If the PDIP persists to fight against Ahok I am sure it will affect the party's performance in the 2017 legislative election because Ahok is so popular, regardless of people's background," Daniel said at a discussion on Thursday.
Ansy Lema, executive director of the Liberation Institute, echoed Daniel's sentiments, saying that political parties had become unpopular due to the behavior of their politicians.
"The weakening of political parties is caused by the members of political parties involved in corruption. In addition, they are also not democratic, they practice autocratic politics," Ansy said.
Ansy advised political parties to nominate credible candidates so that they could compete against Ahok in the 2017 gubernatorial election.
Rambe Kamaruzzaman, chairman of House of Representatives Commission II overseeing political issues, said the emergence of independent candidates was nothing to be concerned about.
He cited an article of the Regional Elections Law stipulating that candidate pairs are individuals supported by a group of people. (bbn)(+)
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