Shock Winner


Election Scenario 3

Polls put Susilo in the lead

Watch out for the dark horse.

Former security czar Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono might well capture the throne if President Megawati Sukarnoputri and Golkar leader Akbar Tandjung slip in the race.

The retired general oozes diplomatic charm and was a voice of reason and authority when he was a minister.

He has name recognition. Until now, most opinion polls have put the incumbent as the country’s most popular politician ahead of Indonesia’s first direct presidential election on July 5 despite her party’s slipping fortunes.

But the latest Indonesia Survey Institute poll showed Mr Susilo winning 20.9 per cent of the presidential vote to her 17.4 per cent in a field of 10 candidates.

In a more realistic field of five candidates, he grabbed 31.7 per cent of the vote to her 21 per cent.

The US-based International Foundation for Election Systems showed him getting 18.4 per cent of the presidential vote to 11.6 per cent for Ms Megawati.

After vacillating for so long, Mr Susilo appears to be going for broke now. Some believe his broad strategy is to link up with either Nadhlatul Ulama (NU) chairman Hasyim Muzadi or Golkar’s Mr Jusuf Kalla. Both have attractive credentials on paper.

Mr Hasyim heads NU, the largest Muslim organisation in the country with a membership of 40 million. Mr Jusuf is not just linked to the Golkar juggernaut but is also a Cabinet minister.

Mr Susilo’s strategy revolves around what he describes as the Third Wave. The thinking is that presidential tickets led by Ms Megawati and Mr Akbar will be captured by ‘a middle ground’ that he plans to lead.

But critics argue that he has a slim chance at the presidency.

For a start, he does not have the backing of a major party. He is a candidate for the small Democratic Party.

To launch a sustained campaign, he needs to have an extensive network and infrastructure that can only come if he is supported by Golkar or PDI-P.

His best bet appears to be the vice-presidency. Given his falling out with the palace, Golkar and Mr Akbar seems to be the only option for him if he is drafted into such a coalition on a ticket by the National Awakening Party.

But in an election where Indonesians are voting for their president for the first time, anything can happen.

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