Refusing Golkar acclamation: Bambang Soesatyo challenges Airlangga to an open confrontation

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Golkar Party Chairman candidates Bambang Soesatyo is with Airlangga Hartarto. (photo: Antara)

IO, Jakarta –Functional Group (Golongan Karya – “Golkar”) Party General Chairman, and also the Minister of Industry in Joko Widodo’s Work Cabinet, Airlangga, is confirmed to have put himself forward for re-election, into what would be his third term of office.

Airlangga took one path, while his rival Bambang Soesatyo (“Bamsoet”) took another. As Golkar Party’s Vice Coordinator in Primary Issues as well as the Speaker of the House (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat – “DPR”), he would only be declaring his candidacy soon. However, Bamsoet claimed to have the support of 400 Golkar Party Leadership Council (Dewan Pimpinan Partai – “DPP”) members. Unwilling to lose to Bamsoet, Airlangga claimed that he has the support of 420 cadres: “There is a significant number of members in the Regional Leadership Council (Dewan Pimpinan Daerah – “DPD”) I and DPD II who have declared their support of me. We have currently received about 420 letters of statement of electoral support,” Golkar Party’s Vice General Secretary Maman Abdurahman confirmed recently.

Both candidates claimed to have nearly an equal amount of support. After the cooling down of the rumor that Golkar’s National Assembly (Musyawarah Nasional – “Munas”) is to be held early, now there are rumors that some parties are attempting to require the Election of Golkar General Chairman to be concluded by acclamation in Golkar Party’s Munas in December. “We see an indication towards that direction (i.e. acclamation). I should say the actual practice would be the same as before,” Bamsoet said, when meeting at the DPR RI Complex in Jakarta on Monday (08/07/2019).

Bamsoet was upset with the spread of the rumor that Golkar Party’s General Chairman is to be confirmed by acclamation. As a man who rose up through the ranks in the Party from nothing, he said that such an election should not be performed through acclamation. “This is unacceptable. In Golkar, there is no tradition that the General Chairman is elected from a Plenary Meeting or acclamation, but from the Munas (National Congress). A party’s General Chairman must be nominated through a democratic election,” he objected.

Bambang then explained that “acclamation” in the election of the Golkar General Chairman refers to the submission of as many statements of support from regional management as possible, so that the chairmanship can be immediately approved in a Plenary Meeting. Bamsoet stated that the collection of such support indicates an effort to nominate the General Chairman through acclamation. “Garnering as much support as possible to be taken into the Plenary Meeting and opened there, is an indication of acclamation. That’s how the majority does it,” he said.

To forestall such an acclamation, Bamsoet stated that if both he and Airlangga claim to have the support of about 400 DPP members, nobody can say that the rival gains full support that would lead towards an acclamation. “So, we are encouraging a free fight, with direct closed elections in the Munas forum. That way, the candidates are also guaranteed they will not be threatened with either sanctions or dismissal. There are so many victims of this kind of ploy already,” he said.

Jokowi’s Blessing
Golkar Party DPP Chairman Andi Sinulingga stated that whoever becomes Golkar’s General Chairman must be supported by the Government, as Golkar is a government-support party. Therefore, any candidate for Golkar General Chairmanship must have good relations with Jokowi, because Golkar will be cooperating with him in running the Government until the end of his tenure in 2024. What’s more, a Golkar Party General Chairman must also have good relations with other parties in the Coalition.

Andi Sinulingga believes that President Joko Widodo’s blessing would definitely affect the chances of being elected as the General Chairman of Golkar in the upcoming Munas. Anyone with Jokowi’s blessing is almost certain to lead Golkar. He further stated that the President would like to know who the candidates are before he is officially inaugurated. “After the inauguration, Pak Jokowi wants to sit together with all Party General Chairmen for the sake of peace among the people,” he said at Puri Denpasar Hotel, Kuningan, South Jakarta.

In early July, Airlangga, with an entourage of 34 Golkar Party DPD Chairmen, visited President Joko Widodo in the Presidential Palace in Bogor. He and the Chairmen congratulated Jokowi on his election as President for the 2019-2024. (Dan)