With Big Money to Spend, NasDem Has High Hopes for its Candidates in 2014
The National Democrats Party (NasDem) is aiming for at least half of its legislative candidates to win in the 2014 elections. The newly formed party has set aside a war chest of approximately Rp 3 trillion ($318 million) to finance campaigns for 300 of its members.
“Our target is 176 seats in the parliament. That must be met,” Ahmad Rofiq, the NasDem’s, secretary general said in a discussion in Jakarta on Saturday.
He said that the party’s goal was to bring “change” to the country — to do that, Ahmad said they have to put at least 50 percent of its members in the parliament.
“Change will not happen with just 8 or 10 percent of our members [winning],” he said. To meet the ambitious goal, Rofiq said the party will give between Rp 5 and 10 billion to each of its members to run in the election.
“There are competent candidates that lack financial backing,” Ahmad said. “Even if these candidates could find the money themselves, it would not guarantee their loyalty to the party,” he said.
“We don’t want our members to feel that they owe it to somebody else. We want them to be loyal to the party,” he added.
Ahmad said that NAsDem would also be both cautious and transparent in disbursing money to its candidates. One of the strategies is to survey each electorate to ascertain who has the highest electability.
Political observer and Indonesian Civic Network (LIMA) Director Ray Rangkuti said that NasDem’s funding strategy was “an alternative worth trying” as it could increase transparency, control and the focus of the legislative candidates.
“Auditing the funding will be simpler because there’s only one door from which the money came: The party. This also enables the party to better control their members,” Ray said, adding that the strategy could sharpen the focus of candidates by freeing them from the burden of fundraising.
In past elections, legislative candidates often used either their own money, their family’s or took out loans. It was common for candidates to bankrupt themselves during the course of an election, which some officials said increased the likelihood of corruption. In some cases, failed candidates reportedly had severe mental breakdowns.
But Ade Irawan, a senior researcher at Indonesia Corruption Watch, disagrees with the policy of a party backing their candidates with a hefty sum of money, calling the strategy a “new form of money politics.”
“The Party will become like event organizers, in which they source money from other ‘sponsors’ and channel it to their members. It certainly does not eliminate money politics,” Ade said.
He added that NAsDem must be transparent on where the money was coming from and who it was being channeled to.
Ade also said that the root of money politics was inadequate dialog between legislators and their constituents. “Limited time and the lack of communication among constituents have made candidates take a short cut to money.”