Tried, tested strategies: Incumbents, dynasties and celebrities


The National Mandate Party (PAN) was one of 12 political parties that submitted lists of proposed candidates for the 2014 legislative elections to the General Elections Commission on April 22. The commission will vet the lists to determine a final list of candidates to run for the 560 seats in the House of Representatives. JP/Jerry Adiguna
The National Mandate Party (PAN) was one of 12 political parties that submitted lists of proposed candidates for the 2014 legislative elections to the General Elections Commission on April 22. The commission will vet the lists to determine a final list of candidates to run for the 560 seats in the House of Representatives. JP/Jerry Adiguna

The General Elections Commission (KPU) posted on its website the provisional legislative nominees list from the 12 political parties eligible to contest the 2014 legislative elections. The parties can still make changes to their lists until May 22 while the KPU finalizes the list for Aug. 22. The Jakarta Post’s Prodita Sabarini looks at how the parties compiled their lists for the House of Representatives and related issues, in the following report. 

For the electoral district of East Java VI, once the winning ground of former Democratic Party chairman Anas Urbaningrum when he ran for parliament in 2009, the number one spot on the Democrat’s prospective legislator candidates list (DCS) is held by a former soap-star — lawmaker Venna Melinda.

Next on the list — for the electorate district comprising Tulungagung, Kediri and Blitar — is incumbent lawmaker writer-psychiatrist Nova Riyanti Yusuf, who ran for Jakarta II district in 2009.

In the same electorate district (dapil) as Venna and Nova, the Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) has current House deputy speaker and the former party secretary general Pramono Anung. The vocal lawmaker Eva Kusuma Sundari is also running in the same dapil.

With the 2014 legislative elections looming, political parties are preparing their strategies to win the most seats in the House of Representatives, the local and provincial councils. Using old faces and reshuffling dapil for some incumbent lawmakers appears to be the strategy of choice for the Democratic Party. Besides Nova, incumbent Ramadhan Pohan and Ruhut Sitompul were also moved to different electorate districts, and are now running in the same dapil in North Sumatra I.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s party won the most seats in the 2009 election, garnering 150 from the 560 available. But it is currently facing a plunge in popularity after a series of graft cases involving its party officials.

After the scramble of political parties to submit their candidate list on April 22, the General Election Commission (KPU) finished verifying the nominee paperwork on Tuesday. The political parties now have 14 days to revise their list; the final candidate lists are scheduled for August 22, following input from the public.

Political parties are setting optimistic targets, especially those ahead in the opinion polls. The PDI-P was most popular according to a survey in March by the National Survey Institute (LSN). According to Idham Samawi, PDI-P head of recruitment, the party aims to win the election nationally by winning in at least 17 provinces.

At the last election, the PDI-P won in five provinces and came third after the Democratic Party and Golkar. Idham attributed this to the party being without representatives in seven provinces.

Golkar set a confident 30 percent target, or 168 of the House’s 560 seats, higher than 2009 when it won 107 seats, and higher than the Democratic Party’s current 150 seats.

Firman Subagyo, head of Golkar’s election team for Java, said their target would be at least 17 seats each in East and Central Java and at least two seats in Yogyakarta. At the last election, East Java had 87 seats from 11 electoral districts up for grabs, Central Java had 77 seats from 10 dapil and Yogyakarta had eight seats.

Also in the March LSN Survey, the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) was ranked the third most popular party, after Golkar. Gerindra deputy chairman Fadli Zon said that they would target at least 20 percent of total votes in 2014. The party won 4.5 percent of the vote last election and secured only 26 seats.

With a lower number of incumbents compared to the winning parties of the 2009 last election, Gerindra is relying on celebrities. These include television culinary personality Bondan Winarno, racing driver Moreno Suprapto and dangdut singer Yenny Khaidir, popularly called Tessa Mariska.

“We can’t have someone who’s popular but disliked by many,” Fadli reflected.

The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), all too aware that its image has been sullied by the beef graft case that implicated former chairman Luthfi Hassan, set the “moderate” target of at least 15 percent of the vote. In 2009 the PKS won 7.9 percent of the vote

“The leadership [of the PKS] was quickly addressed and it was not like the Democratic Party who let their case linger,” PKS party spokesperson Mardani Ali Sera said, referring to the Democratic Party’s leadership uncertainty after Anas was removed from his post as party chairman. The party eventually elected Yudhoyono as chairman, a controversial issue as he already holds a high position in the party.

“With the appointment of Anis [Matta, as chairman] low morale in regional areas can be prevented,” Mardani said, referring to the former PKS secretary general, adding that even after the graft case the PKS won the gubernatorial elections in West Java and Medan.

Similar patterns can be seen across many of the parties; most have renominated their incumbents, encouraged a “passing of the baton” within political dynasties and the nomination of celebrities.

The strategies taken by Islamic parties are interesting and sometimes controversial. The PKS, an Islamic party, nominated non-Muslims in the eastern provinces. The Crescent Star Party (PBB) nominated a graft convict, former chief detective Susno Duadji, despite the KPU ruling that convicted individuals were disqualified from running. Susno recently surrendered to the police, leaving the PBB to prepare a replacement.

The National Mandate Party (PAN) is, for the second time, nominating Eurico Guiterres, its East Nusa Tenggara chapter party head and a former pro-Indonesia militia leader during Timor Leste’s independence fighting in 1999.

Indonesian Parliament Watch (Formappi) said recently that 90.5 percent of incumbent lawmakers from nine major political parties had been nominated for reelection, including those implicated in graft cases. One example is Democratic Party deputy executive chairman Max Sopacua, who was questioned by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) after former party treasurer Muhammad Nazaruddin, a lawmaker until his graft conviction, alleged that Max accepted funds embezzled from a state-funded construction project.

Other names tarred by graft scandals are Setya Novanto and Kahar Muzakir, from Golkar, both of whom were implicated in the National Games (PON) project case.

Like the dynasties of bigger parties, Gerindra has similarly signs of cultivating a “keep it in the family” culture. The offspring of Hashim Djojohadikusumo — brother of Gerindra’s presidential candidate and party chief patron Prabowo Subianto — 29-year-old businessman Aryo P.S. Djojohadikusumo and 26-year-old actress, presenter and philanthropist Rahayu Saraswati Djojohadikusumo, have been nominated.

For the PDI-P, the Sukarno clan nominees are chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri’s daughter Puan Maharani, Puan’s uncle Guruh Sukarnoputra, and cousin Puti Guntur Sukarnoputri. In the Democratic Party, there are 15 names related to Yudhoyono— including son Edhi Baskoro Yudhoyono; cousin Sartomo Hutomo; in-laws Hartanto Edhi Wibowo and Agus Hermanto; Agus’ daughter Lintang Pramesti; and niece Putri Permatasari.

The candidates of 2014’s newcomer, the National Democrats (NasDem), founded by news channel Metro TV owner Surya Paloh, include noted journalists and presenters. Desi Fitriani, renown for her coverage of Aceh, will run in Aceh I and Virgie Baker in North Sulawesi. NasDem has also listed actress Jane Shalimar, model Noni Chirilda Kelling and actor Doni Damara.

Next year’s election uses an open and proportional system, meaning candidates who win the most votes will enter the House. In the last election the parties ranked their candidates by number, thus, those of a higher rank were prioritized though another candidate from the same party might have received more votes — a source of frustration for the losers. But following a ruling by the Constitutional Court those with the most votes will secure legislative seats.

“The parties still determine the ranking on the list — but now the effect is merely psychological”, Fadli of Gerindra said.

The result is that candidates now have to really put themselves out there so their constituents are familiar with them, PDI-P’s Idham said.

The Jakarta Post | Reportage | Tue, May 14 2013, 11:16 AM

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