Alliance no threat, says Golkar

It is confident of winning at least 35% of votes and forming its own coalition with Islamic-oriented parties.

A DEFIANT Golkar yesterday brushed aside suggestions that a united front by three opposition parties would kill whatever chances it had of winning the general election and heading the next government.

Several Golkar leaders told The Straits Times that despite a minority view in the ruling party that “it was now finished”, it was confident of winning at least 35 per cent of the votes and forming its own coalition with the Muslim-based United Development Party (PPP) and other Islamic-oriented parties.

Three opposition parties – Dr Amien Rais’ National Mandate Party (PAN), Mr Abdurrahman Wahid’s National Awakening Party (PKB) and Ms Megawati Sukarnoputri’s PDI-Perjuangan (PDI-Struggle) – yesterday signed an agreement for a pre-election alliance.

Some political analysts and a small group of Golkar leaders, led by urban-based intellectuals like Mr Marzuki Darusman, expressed concern that the alliance could effectively tap into prevailing anti-Golkar sentiments and offer a political reference point for voters fed-up with the New Order. “It’s our own undoing,” he said. “Golkar will now be depicted as the status quo. They can now focus on Golkar’s nomination … as a symbol representing the corrupt past.”

But several other Golkar leaders disagreed.

Vice-Chairman Theo Sambuaga, who is the Housing Minister, said: “They are no threat to us at all. Just wait and see.” He said that there was little evidence that the alliance could challenge a new Golkar, which shared similar hopes to “wipe out the sins of the past regime”.

He said: “Our political platform is essentially the same as theirs. We are just as reformist.”

A critical factor that gave Golkar an edge in terms of making up the numbers: The party had some 35 million members, 10 million of whom were cadres.

Another Cabinet minister, who is also an executive member in Golkar, said that it had a long-established nationwide party infrastructure and machinery down to grassroots level.

“There is a lot of hot air, but when push comes to shove, they cannot fight us on the ground,” said the source who declined to be named.

He added that Golkar also had a wider range in terms of alliance partners and could turn to about seven Islamic-oriented parties to form an “Islamic rainbow coalition” to pre-empt the opposition from taking the lead.

These parties include PPP, Partai Keadilan, Partai Bulan Bintang (PBB) and Partai Daulat Rakyat (PDR).

He said that the real strength of Golkar was in the fragility of the “tactical alliance” involving Ms Megawati, Mr Abdurrahman and Dr Amien.

“There are personality problems and, ideologically, it will be very difficult for them to cooperate at grassroots level,” he added.

ELECTION WATCH

The Straits Times begins the first in a series of information graphics to explain various aspects of the Indonesian election and supplement our on-going coverage of the polls. Today, we take a look at the calendar of key events and how the seats for Parliament are allocated.

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