SBY Not Backing Andi’s Bid: Marzuki
Markus Junianto Sihaloho
Things are not always as they seem, Marzuki Alie insisted on Thursday, confidently brushing aside rumors that his main rival in the race for the chair of the ruling Democratic Party, Andi Mallarangeng, was the favored candidate of party founder President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
“I am absolutely sure that SBY will not intervene in the race,” Marzuki said, referring to the president by his initials.
However, Marzuki, the speaker of the House of Representatives, faces a tough battle at the Democrat’s national congress in May. He is expected to compete for the chairmanship against Andi, who is a former presidential spokesman and the current youth and sports minister, as well as against Anas Urbaningrum, the party’s faction leader in the House.
However, political observers have speculated that the nation’s first family has lent its support to Andi’s bid following his formal declaration on Sunday.
Attending the event was Yudhoyono’s son, Democrat lawmaker Edhie Baskoro Yudhoyono, who was seen sitting next to Andi. Just before Andi headed to the podium to address the audience, he turned to Edhie and gave him a single nod of the head.
After Andi’s speech, Edhie told the room: “I pray to God that Andi Mallarangeng can lead the Democrats to become a modern and advanced political party,” he said.
Political analysts have said the first family’s support would be crucial to winning the party’s top post, but this was flatly dismissed by Marzuki.
While he conceded that he could not ignore “speculation” about Edhie’s support for Andi, a former lecturer with a doctorate in political science from Northern Illinois University in the United States, Marzuki stressed that Edhie’s “opinion” should not be linked to that of the president or first lady, Ani Yudhoyono.
“His opinion is merely that of a grown-up politician who knows his options and knows what decisions he should make,” Marzuki said. “However, we have yet to see whether or not he turns up for the declarations of the other candidates. He could come to my declaration as well. Who knows?”
Asked whether or not he was discouraged by the close relationship between Yudhoyono’s family and Andi, Marzuki said that closeness came with being appointed as a state official, but it did not guarantee loyalty.
“Pak SBY once told me that he knew which people were really loyal to him,” he said, pointing out that Andi had only joined the party in 2008 and “was not really very active within the party.”
“It is a marketing ploy. He has to show that he is of value, has vast networking experience and is skilled when it comes to promotional efforts. Why else do you think he held a declaration ceremony? He was using that time to promote himself.”
Melani Lemeina Suharli, deputy chairwoman of the Democrat’s advisory board, agreed with Marzuki, saying that Yudhoyono had told party members several times that he would not get involved in the chairmanship race and would not allow it to divide the party.
“His message was: The losers should support the winner, and the winner must embrace the losers,” she said, adding that any suggestion the first lady supported Andi’s bid were also false.
Asked about Edhie’s support for Andi, Melani said that it was just “usual political party dynamics.”