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Indonesia's Megawati gets election boost JAKARTA - Indonesia's President Megawati Sukarnoputri has gained a boost in her effort for a fresh term in office after Golkar, the party that won most of the votes in recent parliamentary elections, endorsed her. Megawati, whose Indonesian Democratic Party Struggle (PDI-P) lost its mantle as the leading party in the parliament to Golkar in the April polls, faces her former security minister, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in a September 20 presidential election.
Yudhoyono won a July 5 first round vote, but without the majority needed to avoid a run-off against Megawati, who came second among five candidates. The ex-army general, whose fledgling Democrat Party collected 10 percent of the legislative seats, now faces a tough fight for the presidency, with Golkar leaders working to persuade the party's millions of members to vote for Megawati.
"Golkar supports the pair of Megawati and Hasyim (Muzadi) for the second round of the presidential election," Golkar chairman and current parliamentary speaker Akbar Tandjung told reporters on Sunday, referring to Megawati's vice-presidential running mate. "All the elements of Golkar in the regions, in the provinces and in the villages are obliged to follow this decision," he said after a two-day party meeting.
Golkar's nominee, former military chief Wiranto, lost in the first round, although held out hope until last week when a court threw out his appeal against alleged ballot irregularities. After that, both Yudhoyono and Megawati intensified their courting of Golkar, which autocratic president Suharto used as a political vehicle during his 32-year rule that ended in 1998. "All the elements of Golkar agree to form a coalition with the big parties which have a significant representation in the parliament," Tandjung said, referring to PDI-P and the United Development Party of Megawati's current vice-president, which came third in the parliamentary poll.

A formidable force

Golkar politicians say Megawati has shown more willingness to share power. Local media reported Megawati offered Golkar eight ministerial seats, including key economic posts. Golkar won 127 seats in the 550-strong parliament in April, while PDI-P took 109. A coalition of those two would create a formidable force even without the presidency. Analysts say a Yudhoyono administration would need support from parties stronger than his own to push much-needed reforms.
The ex-general has repeatedly said his cabinet would be filled with professionals rather than politicians. On Friday, Yudhoyono avoided talk about sharing power. "Coalition is about commitment, not only about power-sharing calculations or the narrow talk about seat distribution which can make our democracy unpleasant," he told reporters.
Some analysts argue recent polls show the grip political parties have on voters has weakened and that Indonesians despise the wheeling and dealing of the political elite. Whoever wins on September 20 faces tough challenges in pushing through legal and economic reforms and ending rampant corruption that is denting much-needed investment and the country's transition to democracy.



Posted in Elections @ 16 August 2004 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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