Golkar moves up slowly in vote tally
INDONESIA’s ruling Golkar yesterday appeared to be picking up momentum and closing the gap on the election’s early front-runners, sparking fears of a public backlash and unrest should accusations about vote-rigging take firmer root.
With only under 10 per cent of the 112 million votes tallied officially and controversy raging over the slow pace of counting, the one-time pillar of the Suharto regime has been moving up slowly in the tally on the back of reported gains from vote returns from the outer islands.
The official General Election Commission (KPU) indicated that Golkar was still in third place – the same position it held a day earlier, but with a slight increase – although a parallel count by the joint operation media centre (JOMC) has had the party in second place since late Wednesday night.
Ms Megawati Sukarnoputri’s Indonesian Democratic Party-Perjuangan (PDI-Struggle) was still leading the pack in the official count, followed by the Nation Awakening Party (PKB).
Golkar leaders, armed with their own findings, said that the improvement in their tally was due largely to results from the rural and outlying areas where the party has been strong traditionally. This included Jambi, North, South and Central Sulawesi, West and East Kalimantan, East and West Nusa Tenggara and Maluku.
A party cadre and loyalist of President B. J. Habibie said what was also significant was that an unofficial seat count showed that Golkar had a sizeable number that was not too far off from its rivals in the national Parliament.
According to figures released by the JOMC last night – based on a complex set of calculations – Golkar had 100 seats while PDI-Struggle had 140 despite its much larger vote share.
Several of Golkar’s potential allies, like the Muslim-oriented United Development Party (PPP) and the Crescent Star Party (PBB), were also beginning to show gain in the vote count, reflecting their appeal in the outer islands.
Analysts said this could prove invaluable in fending off a reformist coalition and tipping the balance in Golkar’s favour during the November presidential election.
The composition of the People’s Consultative Assembly favoured the party with a stronger showing outside Java. If some Golkar leaders were growing with confidence, they were also concerned that it would upset supporters of PDI-Struggle who would assume that their party ought to lead the next government given its larger share of votes.
A senior armed forces (Abri) officer told The Straits Times the military was beefing up its presence in Jakarta because of concerns that opposition parties could lead a march for retribution given their suspicions that Golkar had cheated.
Golkar’s gradual rise has also sent shivers through investors who fear an angry public reaction. A lot of the election euphoria that propelled the market 12 per cent on Tuesday has now faded.
Observers said that concerns over election fraud are being fuelled increasingly by the slow vote counting which dragged into its fourth day.
Several leading parties are crying foul but KPU officials have blamed the delay on Indonesia’s inexperience in running a transparent election and the size of the vast archipelago.
These problems have quashed optimism in an early preliminary result with the election commission not expecting it to be out for another 10 days.
LATEST: Official results
HERE are latest available official results, as at 10.06 pm Singapore time yesterday, from the National Election Commission with 11,431,948 votes, or around 10 per cent, counted out of the expected 112 million votes cast.
PDI-Struggle 4,419,980 38.7 per cent Nation Awakening Party (PKB) 2,331,123 20.4 per cent Golkar 1,817,745 15.9 per cent United Development Party (PPP) 1,034,800 9.0 per cent National Mandate Party (PAN) 721,286 6.3 per cent
The commission is issuing results through an Internet website (http://www.kpu.go.id)