Golkar-Gerindra Coalition's President: Aburizal Bakrie or Prabowo Subianto?
Two influential Indonesian political parties, Golkar and Gerindra, may form a coalition in order to nominate a presidential and vice-presidential candidate for Indonesia's presidential election that is scheduled for 9 July 2014. After the PDI-P, which won the legislative election on 9 April 2014 with approximately 19 percent of the vote, Golkar (15 percent) and Gerindra (12 percent) came in second and third. However, both these parties contain a leader who has presidential aspirations.
Aburizal Bakrie, Chairman of Golkar as well as the party's initial presidential candidate, was quoted saying: "there are various possibilities. I can become the presidential nominee of the coalition [Golkar and Gerindra] and Prabowo Subianto the vice-presidential nominee, it can be vice versa, or the coalition can support other people." Bakrie also confirmed that chances are big that both parties will form a coalition but further meetings between both sides are required before any definite decision can be made.
A political party needs at least 25 percent of the vote in the legislative election or 20 percent of seats in the 560-seat House of Representatives (DPR) in order to be able to nominate a presidential and vice-presidential candidate for the July presidential election (they run as a fixed, inseparable pair in the election). However, as no party could meet this threshold on its own, they need to form coalitions.
Indonesian Legislative Elections 1999-2014:
¹ based on quick counts, not the official result
Prior to Indonesia's April 2014 legislative election, the Golkar party stated that Aburizal Bakrie would be its presidential candidate, while Gerinda said it would support Prabowo Subianto (Gerindra being the political vehicle of Subianto, former special forces commander and former son-in-law to Indonesia's second president Suharto).
However, both men are controversial. Companies of Aburizal Bakrie, one of Indonesia's richest businessmen, have been linked to corruption cases and other scandals (for example the Sidoarjo mud flow which has been in eruption since May 2006). Such allegations have caused that Bakrie cannot rely on much popular support, and this has led to factional conflicts within the Golkar party. However, the unpopularity of Bakrie does not imply that the Golkar party lost significant power in Indonesian politics.
Meanwhile, Prabowo Subianto - who also has assembled a large business empire after his military career - has been linked to human rights abuses in the early 1980s (East Timor) and late 1990s (student abductions in Jakarta). Despite coming from a corrupt background (the inner Suharto circle), he can rely on considerable support because Indonesian people regard him as a strong leader. Many Indonesians feel that the country currently lacks a strong leader who can push for higher economic growth and can curtail corruption. As such, if the Golkar-Gerindra coalition does become a reality, Prabowo Subianto as its presidential candidate and Aburizal Bakrie as the vice-presidential candidate is expected to have the highest probability for success. However, due to the backgrounds of both men, it would be a great setback for Indonesian democracy if this pair would run Southeast Asia's largest economy for the next five years.
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