» News

Indonesia's Golkar in crisis as support for Prabowo splits

Publication Date : 13-08-2014


The knives are out over the top post of Indonesia's Golkar party, whose chairman Aburizal Bakrie is a strong supporter of losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, as many cadres are keen for the party to jump into the camp of the country's next president.

Golkar has not been an opposition party in the last five decades but could soon become one unless it peels away from Prabowo, who lost to Joko Widodo in last month's presidential election.

Restless Golkar cadres have started to agitate to push out Bakrie so that the party can join the governing coalition being put together by Joko, who is widely called Jokowi.

"Golkar is in a deep crisis right now. They are attacking each other," said political analyst Arbi Sanit, describing the political manoeuvring between the camp loyal to Bakrie and those that demand change.

What Golkar does next is important for Indonesian politics. As the politicial organisation with the second biggest number of seats in the national Parliament - after Joko's Indonesia Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) - a decision to join the governing coalition should bring more political stability to the country.

Alternatively, if Golkar were to become an opposition party, its many MPs could block plans by Joko to accelerate the country's reforms.

Two Golkar stalwarts have thrown their hat in the ring for the chairmanship. Coordinating welfare minister Agung Laksono and industry minister M.S. Hidayat are front runners seeking to take over the party from Bakrie.

They have also named key members of their campaign teams to solicit support.

Younger faces may also join the fray, and include MPs Airlangga Hartarto and Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita.

But Bakrie wants to remain with Prabowo's coalition led by his Gerindra party for now, and has threatened to sack Agung from his Golkar vice-chairman's post.

Referring to the critics, Lalu Mara Satria Wangsa, Bakrie's spokesman and Golkar deputy secretary-general, told The Straits Times: "Why do they get noisy only now? Why didn't they speak up in 2009, or in 2010? The congress in 2009 mandated Pak Ical (Bakrie) to be chairman until 2015."

A Golkar crossover to the PDI-P coalition would help in securing a solid parliamentary grip for President-elect Joko as he begins his five-year term in office in October.

Prabowo's Gerindra party, with support from Golkar and several other parties, now has control of 63 per cent of seats in the national Parliament. Joko's PDI-P has only 37 per cent.

"PDI-P coalition needs to have with them either Democratic Party plus United Development Party (PPP), or Golkar, to prevent turbulence from happening in the next government," Nusron Wahid, a Golkar cadre turned hardcore Jokowi supporter.

The equation in Golkar may yet change due to spreading unhappiness over Bakrie's decision to stick with Prabowo.

The vice-president-elect is Jusuf Kalla, a former Golkar chairman, and there are hopes that cadres would unite behind whoever he and Joko support as the party's new chairman, thus increasing the possibility of its switch to the ruling PDI-P coalition.

- See more at:


Mobile Apps Newsletters ANN on You Tube