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Golkar claims poll victory as results filter in JAKARTA - The Golkar party of fallen autocrat Suharto has declared victory in Monday's parliamentary polls in Indonesia after early official results and an independent count indicated that it narrowly beat the nationalist party of President Megawati Sukarnoputri. In an interview with the Financial Times on Tuesday, Akbar Tandjung, Golkar's chairman, proclaimed victory and dismissed the possibility of a much-touted alliance with Mrs Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) ahead of July 5 presidential polls, saying such a coalition was now "very difficult".
"We are becoming the winner in this election," said Mr Tandjung, a leading candidate for Golkar's presidential nomination, who earlier this year successfully fought off a corruption conviction. "The result of this election has come because we have worked very hard. We are very happy about the victory." The early results from Monday's election have dimmed the re-election prospects of Mrs Megawati and strengthened the hand of rivals, including Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a former minister who is now the frontrunner according to opinion polls.
An alliance between PDI-P and Golkar had been seen by some close to Mrs Megawati as a sure way to guarantee her re-election. Despite promises of a fast count by officials, results continued only to creep in on Tuesday night. With just 2 per cent of the vote released, largely from urban districts, Golkar was leading with 20.3 per cent to the PDI-P's 17.8 per cent and Mr Yudhoyono's Democratic party on 11.3 per cent. A more representative independent "quick count" of results from 1,416 polling stations across Indonesia showed Golkar taking 22.7 per cent of the vote, broadly in line with the 22.5 per cent it garnered in 1999, while PDI-P support slumped to just 18.8 per cent, down from 34 per cent at the last election.
The survey, by an independent coalition of election monitors, gave Mr Yudhoyono's Democratic party and the Islamic conservatives of the Prosperous Justice party around 7 per cent support. Mr Tandjung said the "quick count" indicated voters had returned to Golkar - Mr Suharto's political vehicle until his fall in 1998 - thanks to its "experience." He sought, however, to distance the party from Mr Suharto who last month topped watchdog Transparency International's ranking of the world's most corrupt leaders. "We don't want to make the same mistakes [as Suharto]," he said.
A coalition with the PDI-P would be difficult, he said, because Mrs Megawati was already its presidential nominee and Golkar would insist on top billing. "It's only natural that we would be number one," he said. Analysts said Mr Tandjung was being overly optimistic in proclaiming victory as the once-reviled Golkar had failed to increase its 1999 support. That, some said, had left it in a weak position ahead of the coalition-building expected to take place in the coming weeks.
Mr Tandjung said he was open to a coalition with Mr Yudhoyono's Democratic party, whose star has risen since Monday's poll, thanks to a growing anti-corruption vote. Analysts questioned whether such an alliance could eventuate. They added that engineering such an unlikely marriage would be true to form for Mr Tandjung. "He wants to be either king or kingmaker," one senior diplomat said. But "to be a kingmaker is an acceptable position for Akbar Tandjung."



Posted in Elections @ 07 April 2004 00:03 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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