Three clear signs Golkar will win

The party is leading in 24 provinces, it looks set to garner most of the parliamentary seats, and opinion polls show it is ahead.

NUMBERS don’t lie.

With 60 per cent of the votes tallied in the legislative election, Indonesia’s two giants Golkar and the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) are neck and neck for the top position.

With close to two-thirds of the estimated 124 million votes counted, Golkar leads with 20.5 per cent of the votes while Ms Megawati Sukarnoputri’s party trails by a whisker.

The difference might be small. But there are at least three clear indications that Golkar, the party that ruled Indonesia for 32 years under Suharto, will win this race.

For one, it is leading in 24 provinces, half of which backed the PDI-P in the 1999 election. The PDI-P is only ahead in four out of the 32 regions, mainly in its strongholds of Central Java and Bali.

With more votes likely to come in from the outer regions like Sumatra, Sulawesi and Kalimantan, where Golkar has traditionally been dominant, it is almost certain that its national vote tally would increase.

Five years ago, Golkar was in fourth position after nearly half the votes were counted. Today, at the halfway mark, it is No 1. That explains Golkar’s confidence in declaring victory midway through the count.

Secondly, Golkar is the only party that looks set to garner the largest number of the 550-parliamentary seats up for grabs.

In Indonesia, votes do not translate directly into seats. The country’s proportional electoral system over-represents the thinly populated provinces outside Java, areas where Golkar is strong.

Currently, Golkar has close to 100 seats while PDI-P has about 60. Some observers believe that with the final tally, Golkar could get as high as 150 seats or close to 30 per cent of the total.

Thirdly, credible opinion polls point to a Golkar victory. An exit poll on April 5 showed Golkar might come out ahead, with 23 per cent of the vote, four points ahead of the PDI-P, according to the Washington-based National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and three Indonesian NGOs monitoring the polls.

A quick count at 1,461 polling stations across Indonesia also showed that two out of five people who voted for the PDI-P in 1999 cast their ballot this time for another party. It only helped not just the smaller parties, but also Golkar, gain ground.

The numbers this far don’t look as attractive as the big two thought it would. PDI-P had predicted a landslide of 50 per cent. Golkar was thinking of 30 per cent.

For them, however badly they are doing right now, the numbers don’t lie. But not for 19 political parties that are now up in arms alleging vote fraud and demanding a recount. The current figures don’t mean anything.

They are alleging that both PDI-P and Golkar had ‘bought votes’ in several polling stations by manipulating the vote count. They are also accusing them of buying ballot papers from election officials.

Their assessment is the two juggernauts’ real figures could be as low as 15 per cent each if they did not rig the process.

Mr Taufik Darusman of the New Indonesian Alliance Party, one of the parties leading the protest, told The Straits Times: ‘The numbers officially released do not conform to the figures that many of us gathered in the field. There is something definitely wrong here.’

Some are also calling for a boycott of the election, lending to even more confusion with some suggesting another poll be held again.

This looks unlikely.

So far, 77 million votes have been tallied, with an estimated 60 million to go. Expect accusations of vote rigging and fraud to continue.

But for now, the numbers show one clear fact: Golkar looks set to finish at No 1.

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