PPP, PDI see bigger share of vote

INDONESIAN ELECTION

STATE OF THE OPPOSITION

DESPITE the heavy odds stacked against them, the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) and the Muslim-based United Development Party (PPP) remained upbeat about their chances of raising their vote percentage in the general election.

PPP and PDI cadres interviewed by The Straits Times yesterday said that while a victory by the ruling Golkar party was certain, they were confident their parties would increase their vote and representation in Parliament.

PPP deputy chairman Jusuf Syakir said he expected the party to secure 35 per cent of the vote and 150 seats in parliament. The PPP won 17 per cent in the last election in 1992 and currently holds 62 seats.

Mr Syakir said that the PPP expected an increase in votes throughout Java and in the major cities of Medan, Aceh, Palembang and Banjarmasin.

“There is a new-found optimism about the PPP now. We have strong support from all layers of society,” he said.

He added that campaign rallies were attended by thousands who were attracted by the party’s strong defence of the poor and its fight against corruption and collusion in the country.

Many Indonesians were hoping for greater representation of their rights, he said. “They have had enough of Golkar for more than 30 years. People are crying for change.”

Another PPP cadre said the party expected more votes because of the support it would get from Megawati loyalists. Ousted PDI leader Megawati Soekarnoputri has ordered her supporters not to vote for the government-backed PDI.

“We will benefit from the split in the PDI,” he added.

But PDI leaders stressed this was unlikely to happen. “There is a misperception that the PDI is finished because Megawati is not backing it,” said party spokesman Amal Alghozoli.

He said that only a small percentage of votes was likely to go to the PPP. “Will they vote for a Muslim party?” he said. “I doubt it because many PDI supporters are Christians.”

Instead, he said, a large number of Megawati supporters would just boycott the polls.

Mr Alghozoli acknowledged that the PDI faced an uphill task because of infighting, a lack of funds, poor media support and, like the PPP, is disadvantaged by laws which allow political contact with the masses only during the election.

But he said he was optimistic that the PDI had enough support to improve on its previous showing of 56 seats and 15 per cent of the total votes.

Other party officials indicated that PDI leader, the government-backed Mr Soerjadi, was hoping for at least 20 per cent of the vote.

Officials from both parties added that the ruling party’s majority might shrink. “Golkar votes dropped in the last election. This trend might continue because a lot of people are unhappy with the ruling party,” said PDI official Paulus London.

Political observers here predict the PPP could get up to 22 per cent of votes. The PDI, on the other hand, is likely to lose support.

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