Ezra Sihite &Markus Junianto Sihaloho
There are signs members of the Golkar Party remain divided over the decision to declare its chairman Aburizal Bakrie as the party’s presidential candidate.
Golkar politician Zainal Bintang claimed that a meeting held in Bali and attended by the party’s 33 Regional Representatives Council (DPD) leaders on Monday was a maneuver to thwart Aburizal’s presidential candidacy.
“Ical’s [candidacy] was declared just two weeks ago and [they] already want to evaluate it. What’s going on?” Zainal said, referring to Aburizal by his nickname.
Zainal cautioned that internal bickering will hurt Golkar’s vote in upcoming national legislative elections. Given legislative election results determine whether a presidential candidate can be nominated, the consequences could be far-reaching.
“This will become a boomerang for the DPD members in the 2014 legislative election if [Golkar] fails to achieve the 30 percent target set by Ical,” Zainal said.
Zainal called on the Golkar DPD members to resign, or for the organization to push them to resign, because they tried to break the party. But he said he supported the evaluation if it was intended to strengthen Aburizal’s presidential candidacy.
“If the intention of the meeting was to strengthen Ical, that’s good, because that’s a form of their political moral responsibility,” he said.
Golkar deputy secretary general Nurul Arifin denied that the meeting was intended to block Aburizal’s presidential candidacy, saying that it was designed to strengthen his electoral prospects.
“The assumption that the meeting was to evaluate Ical’s presidential candidacy is not true,” Nurul said.
He added that the DPD leaders wanted to find a common point of view to help Aburizal win the 2014 presidential race.
“So, they talked about concepts and strategies to help Ical become Indonesia’s next president,” Nurul said.
I Komang Purnama, secretary of the party’s Bali DPD chapter, said the meeting followed one in Bogor at which Aburizal was declared Golkar’s presidential candidate.
Komang said the meeting was intended to evaluate what needed to be done or improved upon to strengthen the candidacy.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, former Vice President Jusuf Kalla spoke out against the party’s decision to dismiss members who are nominated by other parties as presidential or vice presidential candidates. Golkar member Kalla, who is often approached by other parties to run, said he had never heard of such a sanction.
“I’ve never read about that sanction,” he said. “It’s not even in the party’s statute, which is the highest [law] in the party.”
Kalla said he did not care if the party decided to fire him.
“It’s fine by me if they want to fire me once, twice or three times. It’s not a problem,” he said.
Kalla said many parties had approached him informally to discuss the possibility of him being nominated as either a presidential or vice presidential candidate.
He said he believed that such approaches are inevitable in politics.
“Personally, many have talked [to me]. “Let’s just see what the situation is like,” he said.
Surveys show that Kalla’s popularity remains high. The Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) and National Democratic Party (NasDem) have both reportedly sounded out his interest in standing for them.
A recent survey by Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting found that Aburizal, a business executive and former minister, was among the least popular potential candidates for the 2014 presidential poll.
“Ical has made a concerted effort to become a presidential candidate, but public resistance to him is still high,” Saiful said.