New Candidates Few and Far Between for Indonesian Presidential Election
Ezra Sihite, SP/Robertus Wardi & Markus Junianto Sihaloho
Surveys are finding that old faces will dominate the upcoming presidential campaign, with the latest poll placing general Prabowo Subianto atop the list of potential candidates for 2014.
A survey conducted by Soegeng Sarjadi Syndicate put Prabowo, a retired Army general and founder of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), ahead of former President Megawati Sukarnoputri, former Vice President Jusuf Kalla and Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie.
Prabowo was chosen by 25.8 percent of the 2,192 people surveyed, followed by Megawati with 22.4 percent, Kalla with 14.9 percent and Aburizal with 10.6 percent.
“They are the only possible presidential candidates because they have invested the time and money since at least 2004,” said Fachry Ali, a political expert from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).
“It’s hard for newcomers to emerge.”
Other figures mentioned in the survey include Surya Paloh (5.2 percent) and Wiranto (4.5 percent).
All those featured are in their 60s or 70s, and have been in politics since the New Order Era, which ended with the downfall of Suharto in 1998.
Political observer Ray Rangkuti said he was worried about the lack of quality young figures on the political scene.
“We need fresh and young figures to shoulder today’s more challenging world issues,” he said.
He also asked the survey institutes to include young figures in their surveys. “I am sure that if they include young people in the polls, the respondents would pick them,” said.
There have some younger candidates whose names have been mentioned as potential candidates. They include former Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Democratic Party chairman Anas Urbaningrum, Megawati’s daughter, Puan Maharani, and Paramadina University rector Anies Baswedan.
However, discourse on them has fizzled of late, with Anas busy facing graft allegations and Mulyani publicly rejecting the possibility of her candidacy.
Meanwhile, Anies has little support from political parties, while Puan is polling far behind her mother.
Maruarar Sirait, a legislator from Megawati’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), said Megawati still had what it took to become president.
Fachry, however, said Megawati was losing ground.
“Support for Prabowo is getting real while Megawati is still supported only by those who backed her in 2009,” he said.