A decision by the National Democrat Party to give as much as Rp 10 billion ($1.1 million) to each of its candidates preparing to run for a seat in the House of Representatives in 2014 has elicited mixed responses from other parties.
The move by the fledgling party, known as NasDem, is a fresh tactic in Indonesian politics, said Hadjriyanto Thohari, a deputy chairman of the Golkar Party.
“It’s a smart way of helping the candidates stay out of financial difficulty,” he said on Monday.
Candidates running for office typically have to borrow widely to sustain their bids. Many politicians are known to have sold their assets or even borrowed from loan sharks to pay for their campaigns.
Once elected, most use their new position to make as much money as possible, often through corruption, to pay off their debts and reclaim their assets, antigraft activists have said.
Hadjriyanto said NasDem’s move was thus a good way to keep the candidates from taking money from shady sources or committing corruption to pay it back.
However, Ruhut Sitompul from the ruling Democratic Party wrote off the tactic as a ploy to buy the candidates’ loyalty.
He said that candidates who took the money would not represent their constituents once elected, but would be beholden to media tycoons Surya Paloh and Hary Tanoesoedibjo, NasDem’s two biggest financial backers.
“They can’t be loyal to the people anymore,” he said.
But NasDem chairman Patrice Rio Capella said his party would not require the candidates to pay back the money or make any political commitments.
“We just want them to focus on winning a seat without thinking about paying off any debts,” he said.