Democratic Party to Sign Up More Celebs as Golkar, PDI-P Balk
SP/Carlos Paath &SP/Robertus Wardi
The Democratic Party is hinging its prospects for next year’s legislative polls on recruiting celebrities, but other parties say the tactic is a cheap attempt to exploit the name recognition of individuals with questionable qualifications for serving in the House of Representatives.
Ingrid Kansil, a Democrat legislator and former actress, said on Wednesday that the ruling party was keen to nominate more celebrities to the House, given the prospects of them winning as a result of their high name recognition among voters.
The Democrat roster at the House includes nine celebrities, out of 18 celebrities from all parties who won a seat during the 2009 election. One of the most high-profile Democrats is Angelina Sondakh, a former Miss Indonesia and actress, who was last week sentenced to four and a half years in prison for corruption.
“The issue of [nominating celebrities] shouldn’t be blown out of proportion, because celebrities are just like anyone else. It’s just that they happen to be widely known by the public,” Ingrid said.
“That’s why we welcome celebrities to run [in the 2014 polls].”
However, a senior official from the Golkar Party, which surveys indicate will overtake the Democrats for the most House seats in 2014, said the practice of nominating celebrities merely for their popularity was a low form of politics with no benefits to the party or the legislature.
“The problem with parties whose own members have lost touch with the grassroots is that they have to find a shortcut to boost their popularity, so they recruit celebrities,” said Hajriyanto Tohari, chairman of Golkar’s central executive board.
He added that for such parties, the most important thing was to win the most seats at all costs, with no regard for whether the candidates they backed had the qualifications to serve in public office.
Hajriyanto said that Golkar’s own celebrity legislators had proved to be capable and competent politicians.
“We do indeed recruit celebrities, but for their capabilities, not their popularity. People like [actress] Nurul Arifin and [singer] Tantowi Yahya are very competent; no one doubts their political savvy,” he said.
The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) also claimed to be highly selective in its nomination of celebrities, including actress Rieke Dyah Pitaloka.
Ahmad Basarah, a PDI-P deputy secretary general, said members like Rieke, who is contesting next month’s gubernatorial election in West Java, were chosen based on how they aligned with the party’s own ideologies and values.