The United Development Party says it is considering endorsing former Vice President Jusuf Kalla as its presidential candidate for the 2014 presidential race.
Though Kalla is from the Golkar Party, he garnered a substantial amount of votes from members of the party known as the PPP during its national working meeting in February, PPP deputy secretary general Arwani Thomafi said on Monday.
The former chairman of Golkar, which reportedly is set to nominate its current chairman Aburizal Bakrie in the upcoming presidential race, defeated other potential candidates from outside the party, including Constitutional Court Chief Mahfud M.D., former Women’s Empowerment Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa and Paramadina University rector Anies Baswedan.
Arwani added that Kalla finished third, securing 9.6 percent of the vote, in an electability poll performed by Saiful Mujani and Research Consulting in late June, after former President Megawati Sukarnoputri (17.6 percent) and Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) chairman Prabowo Subianto (16.7 percent).
“JK’s rather good electability will trigger interesting dynamics in our second national working meeting next year. In the end, PPP wants our presidential candidate to win the election,” Arwani said.
He added that the PPP would continue to monitor Kalla’s activities and the trend of his electability in polls conducted by various survey institutes.
The biggest challenge to Kalla’s PPP nomination, according to Arwani, could come from the chairman of the party itself, Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali. The PPP will discuss the issue further in its national working meeting next year.
In the meantime, the party has established a special unit to prepare for the 2014 presidential election headed by senior PPP politician Lukman Hakim Saefudin, Arwani said.
Anis Matta, the secretary general of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), also thinks Kalla still has a good chance to become president because he is motivated and actively engaged in various activities.
“I think he’s still appropriate [for the presidency. He’s got the leadership quality. He is agile and he’s also physically healthy,” Anis, who is a deputy House of Representatives speaker, said last week.
Meanwhile, Indra J. Piliang, the chairman of Golkar’s research and development division, said Kalla had a bigger stronghold in the eastern Indonesia region compared to Aburizal if both ran for president.
However, the party has still decided to endorse Aburizal as the party’s presidential candidate over the objections of several senior party members.
“Ical is weak in eastern Indonesia, but if Ical ran, it doesn’t necessarily mean JK’s supporters will not vote for Ical,” said Indra, referring to Aburizal by his nickname.