SBY Sets His Criteria for Next President
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called on top politicians to “come forward without hesitation” and tell the nation if they are indeed capable of becoming Indonesia’s next head of state.
“Propose yourself to become president,” he said during an interview with Metro TV broadcast on Wednesday. “That’s how it should be, to indicate that there is no apathy among the political elite. Let us give them room to introduce themselves to the public.
“Let each of those presidential hopefuls explain to the public about what they would do and to what direction they would lead Indonesia if elected president. Let them explain their views and policies as well as solutions to our many problems.
“That way people would know them well and would vote for them [because of their qualities] and not blindly gamble in choosing them.”
He added that the media could help by giving the would-be candidates a platform on which to speak.
“The mass media must give each of them enough space so that people may understand [their visions and ideas] better,” Yudhoyono told Metro TV’s host Najwa Shihab.
“Right now I still don’t have a hero of my own and we must allow the democratic process to flow properly until the time when we, the people of Indonesia, will elect the best candidate for president.
“Apart from the fact that the candidate must be the one most favored by [the majority of] voters, he or she must fulfill these basic criteria: integrity, capacity, and [clean] track records.
“There could be five candidates who are believed to be equally good. People would then judge them against those yardsticks and match that decision with their preferences. Then, if people choose candidate X, that does not mean the rest are not good, but it means that candidate X is people’s choice.
“Presidential candidates must be people of unshaken character, people who are ready to work day and night, and though people may call them names, such is their destiny.
“While they prepare themselves, I hope the public will evaluate closely their integrity, capacity, and track records and there must be the conviction that the chosen candidate is the one with the highest leadership capability.”
The president’s remarks confirmed the prevailing assumption that even the ruling party does not yet have a potential candidate for next year’s election. Many say that the Democratic Party plans to hold its convention in the second half of the year so that it can have time to recruit candidates from outside the party.
Last year, there was speculation that the Democratic Party might nominate first lady Ani Yudhoyono, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto, or Army chief of staff Purnomo Edhi Wibowo.
The president, however, denied that anybody from his extended family [including the first lady and the army chief] would run for the No. 1 position. Meanwhile, the coordinating minister has refrained from stepping in that direction.
Senior Democratic Party politician, Achmad Mubarok has announced that because nobody from the party meets its selection criteria, it wanted to hold the party’s convention in the second half of 2013.
In laying out the criteria during the television interview, Yudhoyono was not speaking as the highest authority of the ruling party but as a statesman who wants to see the national leadership succession proceed in a distinguished manner, analysts said.
Under the current law, a presidential candidate must get support from a party or coalition of parties that garner at least 20 percent of votes in the legislative election that precedes the presidential election.
The 2014 legislative election will be held in April while the presidential election will take place in July.
In the 2009 legislative election, only Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party, which got 20.8 percent of votes, had the right to nominate its own presidential candidate while other major parties, including the Golkar Party and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), which garnered 14.4 percent and 14 percent respectively, needed to form coalitions with other parties to be able to nominate candidates.
Lawmakers at the House of Representatives are still fighting to determine the presidential threshold, but many said that it will be between 15 and 25 percent.
That led to Yudhoyono’s assumption that there might be five presidential candidates to contest the 2014 election.
They would come from three coalitions that include each of the three biggest parties and two coalitions made from smaller parties.
Golkar chairman Aburizal Bakrie is the only party chairman to have openly announced his candidacy but in recent months, Akbar Tandjung, the chairman of Golkar’s advisory council, has moved to weaken his candidacy.
PDI-P chairwoman and former president Megawati Sukarnoputri is a popular candidate according to opinion polls but her husband, Taufik Kiemas, has said that the country needs a younger candidate.
With the ruling Democratic Party waiting to hold its convention, it has become evident that the three biggest parties are have difficulty in finding the right candidates.
Popular candidates from smaller parties, such as Prabowo Subianto, who founded the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), retired general Wiranto, who heads the People’s Conscience Party (Hanura), and independent candidates that have begun to emerge over the past year might project themselves as good options to political decision-makers.
Megawati has yet to announce her candidacy, but did indicate that she might run, dashing Prabowo’s chances of obtaining the party’s nod.
Most polls have named Prabowo as the leading candidate for 2014, ahead of Megawati and former vice president Jusuf Kalla. However, many noted that his bid could be over before it begins because of a lack of party support.
Analysts say Prabowo burned his bridges with the PDI-P by glorifying his role in the Jakarta gubernatorial poll, damaging his chances of being selected by Megawati. Though she did not mention Prabowo by name, the former president blasted “free riders” that took credit for Joko Widodo’s election victory.
Among potential candidates are outgoing chairman of the Constitutional Court Mahfud M.D., who will leave that seat in April.
Other potentially electable independent candidates that have been mentioned include former coordinating minister for the economy Rizal Ramli, who needs a lot of support to boost his chances, and World Bank managing director and former finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who needs a ticket to reach the palace.
If public exposure counts for anything, popular figures would include Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa, State Enterprises Minister Dahlan Iskan, and Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo.
Many agree that in terms of statesmanship, few of those politicians would meet the criteria that Yudhoyono articulated.
Veteran military leaders have cautioned against electing candidates with poor track records. Former chief of the State Intelligence Agency A.M. Hendropriyono said “the next Indonesian president must be a non-military figure from the younger generation.”
Military generals have called on the president to avoid advocating the election of “military figures with blemished track records.”
Over the next 15 months, political parties will concentrate on boosting their chances to win legislative elections.
Only after that will the landscape be clearer for political parties to set up coalitions for the presidential election.
Indonesian politics is famous for last-minute decisions and the situation is still too fluid to warrant a precise projection of what the next national leadership succession will look like.
But the outcome of the next legislative election will present a good clue for pundits to map out the likely coalition arrangements, analysts said.