Monday, October 5, 2009

Golkar: Who will replace Jusuf Kalla?

Source (click to view): Jakarta Globe

Hundreds of delegates from the provincial branches of the Golkar Party converged on Pekanbaru, Riau for a four-day national leadership meeting beginning Monday.

At issue is who will replace the outgoing chairman, Vice President Jusuf Kalla, criticized by many for the battering the party took in April’s legislative elections.
The congress comes at a critical juncture in Golkar’s long history. A number of analysts and critics have predicted the party chairmanship would go to the richest candidate rather than the most concerned about returning the party to its former glory.

Which contender will win the race for the party’s top job?

Aburizal Bakrie
A controversial businessman and outgoing member of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s cabinet. It is highly unlikely that the Sidoarjo mudflow disaster, which has been linked to Bakrie’s PT Lapindo Brantas, or his low approval ratings will hold much sway with Golkar branch chairmen. The clear frontrunner for the chairmanship, Bakrie has secured the support of former chairman Akbar Tanjung and Golkar deputy chairman Agung Laksono. He is also expected to align Golkar with Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party-led ruling coalition.

Yuddy Chrisnandi
The up-and-comer within Golkar promoted himself as a reformer within the struggling party but then sought the blessings of former dictator Suharto’s family for his candidacy. Yuddy has pledged to shake up the party. Although not expected to be in any position to make a serious stake for the Golkar crown, Yuddy maintains that he will be able to secure the support of at least 30 percent of the party’s regional branches. His vision is to place Golkar as an independent party, but says that he will take cabinet seats if they were offered.

Surya Paloh
The flamboyant media mogul and veteran Golkar leader claims he has the support of 362 provincial and district branch chairmen. The bearded Paloh has vowed to move Golkar out of the government for the first time in its long history. He views the former ruling party as an equal partner to Yudhoyono’s government and one that must be critical and proportionate. He has pledged to reject any cabinet seats and instead focus on consolidating and rebuilding the party ahead of the 2014 elections.

Tommy Suharto
The former high-flying playboy prince of Cendana. The favored son of the late Suharto claims he has the support of 300 branch leaders, but will not identify them. He has promised to reject positions within the government and to form an independent party.