Arientha Primanita & Markus Junianto Sihaloho
Now that Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie has been declared the party’s candidate for president in the 2014 elections, the organization will focus on consolidating its strategy, including picking the running mate who it thinks will give Aburizal the best chance to win.
Golkar deputy chairman Agung Laksono, who is also the coordinating minister for people’s welfare, said winning the legislative elections, which happen a few months before the presidential contest, was Golkar’s top priority for now.
“We’re forming a special team assigned to make a strategy to win the legislative elections while trying to find a running mate for Pak Aburizal,” he said.
Golkar’s performance in the legislative elections will determine whether the party should form a coalition to contest the presidency, Agung said.
Under the law, the presidential election threshold, or the minimum vote a party or a coalition of parties must garner in legislative elections to be able to nominate a presidential candidate, is 20 percent.
“If we get above 25 percent, then we will be on our own. But if we get below 25 percent, then we will look for a partner,” Agung said.
Analysts have pointed out that although the latest polls show that Golkar is leading in terms of the legislative elections, Aburizal still trails the other presidential candidates, namely ex-general Prabowo Subianto, founder of the Great Indonesian Movement Party (Gerindra).
“Aburizal’s declaration shows Golkar members and outsiders that he is ready and in charge. However, he should get support from the Democratic Party to have a chance,” said Aleksius Jemadu, the dean of Pelita Harapan University’s School of Social and Political Sciences.
“Prabowo has a lot of confidence following latest polls that show he could win the presidency.”
As Gerindra is too small to nominate Prabowo by itself, the party needs support from larger parties, such as the ruling Democratic Party or Megawati Soekarnoputri’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).
With Megawati signaling that she may still run, Prabowo and Aburizal will likely compete for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s support.
Last month in Bali, Yudhoyono invited Prabowo to a reunion of the Indonesian Armed Forces Academy’s graduating class of 1973, even though Prabowo graduated a year later. During the event, Yudhoyono took Prabowo aside for a private talk.
An official said the two discussed the election, but the official did not say whether Yudhoyono would endorse Prabowo.
“Aburizal sees Prabowo as his strongest rival. That’s why his move to lock up support from Yudhoyono by approaching Ibas is the right move,” Aleksius said, referring to Edhie “Ibas” Baskoro, Yudhoyono’s youngest son.
Aburizal has said that Ibas would make an excellent running mate. Ibas, meanwhile, has suggested that he wouldn’t turn down Aburizal’s offer.
Democratic Party officials, however, are divided on whether the party should align itself with Aburizal.
Ramadhan Pohan, the party’s deputy secretary general, said the Democrats did not need Aburizal and should nominate their own candidate.
Nurhayati Ali Assegaf, the head of the Democrat’s House faction, said the party should be proud that Ibas was being spoken of so highly at such a young age.