Both PDI-P and Golkar have their roots in the authoritarian regime of Suharto, Indonesia's second president. Suharto's regime, known as the "New Order", was characterized by economic development (resulting in an admirable poverty reduction) but also by suppression and corruption (the latter being decentralized since his fall in 1998). During this regime, the Golkar party was Suharto's political vehicle. Golkar was developed into an electoral machinery to produce majority support for the government. It had a network up to the village districts and was financially sponsored to promote the central government. Civil servants were obliged to support Golkar while village heads received quotas of Golkar votes to fill. After the Reformasi period started in 1998, Golkar did not leave the political scene as had been expected after Suharto's fall. Up to this day, it enjoys popularity. However, Golkar's nominee for the presidential election - and current chairman of the party - is Aburizal Bakrie, a wealthy businessman whose companies have been associated with a number of scandals and corruption cases. Bakrie lacks popularity among the Indonesian electorate. Therefore, it is expected that Golkar will perform well in the legislative election but Bakrie will disappoint in the following presidential election.

The PDI-P was born out of a division within the PDI party in the mid-1990s (a division which emerged because of the meddling of Suharto). Megawati Soekarnoputri, daughter of Indonesia's first president Soekarno, was outcasted from the PDI in 1996 after she gained too much popularity. Due to her father's legacy and her opposition to the New Order towards the end of Suharto's rule, she enjoyed widespread popularity (especially on the islands of Java and Bali) and thus formed a threat to Suharto. In 1998, she established a new party PDI-P which easily won the 1999 legislative election with 33.7 percent of the votes. Megawati also became Indonesia's president between 2001 and 2004. However, her presidency was not considered succesful as she seemed to lack vision, leadership and political skills. Remarkebly, Megawati is still chairman of the PDI-P today, although it remains unknown whether she will run for president again next year as she seems to lack sufficient support.

For a more detailed outline of modern Indonesian politics, visit our Reformation section