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 Megawati to Keep Her Iron Grip on PDI-P

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BerichtOnderwerp: Megawati to Keep Her Iron Grip on PDI-P   di 31 maa 2015 - 1:59

The Jakarta Globe, Mar 31, 2015

Jakarta. Megawati Soekarnoputri is slated to continue as chairwoman of the country’s biggest political party for a fifth consecutive term despite strong public demand for a new brand of leadership.

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) is scheduled to stage a national congress from April 9-12, but its deputy secretary general Trimedya Panjaitan confirmed that absent from the agenda is any indication of a progression in leadership or a stage for a successor to Megawati’s reign, which has virtually gone unchallenged since she founded the party in 1999.

The congress will instead discuss a reshuffle of the party’s structure and its stance on key political issues, he said.

“The issue concerning [PDI-P’s] chairmanship has been settled,” Trimedya said. “Mega will continue to serve as chairwoman. The main issue now is party structure. [PDI-P officials] are now wondering whether they get to keep their jobs or will be replaced.”

Megawati’s position has been secure since the party’s 2010 congress, during which party members voted to extend the former president’s leadership for a fourth and fifth term, he said, adding that no other politician has been considered for the job.

Some analysts predicted that this year’s congress will likely see Megawati’s daughter and Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare Puan Maharani elected as deputy chairwoman.

Trimedya, however, did not dismiss the possibility of this in the future, saying Puan “deserves a good post.”

But President Joko Widodo — also a PDI-P member — has stressed that no member of his cabinet should hold any party position.

Puan was the PDI-P chief of politics and institutional relations, a post she gave up for her current role in Joko’s government.

In direct contradiction with the president’s statement, Trimedya said he saw no problem in Puan holding down both positions as long as “her responsibilities for the party do not hinder her duties as welfare minister.”

He added that “Puan would not be directly involved in the party, but her input and thoughts are valuable to PDI-P.”

However, several surveys have shown that a majority of the public disagrees with having yet another member of the Sukarno family in a position of power, calling for fresh faces in the party’s upper echelons.

Poltracking Indonesia last week released a results of a survey that placed Megawati, her son Prananda Prabowo and Puan at the bottom of a list of nine political figures whom respondents think should lead the party, which earned the most legislative seats in last year’s elections.

Topping the list of favorites to lead PDI-P is Joko, who scored a popularity ranking of 7.68 out of 10 points. Behind the president are Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo and veteran politician Pramono Anung, who scored 7.41 and 7.35, respectively.

Megawati, Prananda and Puan were ranked seventh, eighth and ninth, scoring 6.44, 5.93 and 5.74, respectively.

The poll surveyed 200 political experts between December and January.

But PDI-P dismissed the study as a sham, and accused the group of trying to fray the relationship between Joko and Megawati.

Ties between the two soured when Joko refused to swear-in Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan as police chief due to his alleged involvement in a 2010 graft case. Budi was Megawati’s security aide during her time as president from 2001-2004.

University of Indonesia sociologist Hamdi Muluk called PDI-P’s accusation “baseless,” arguing that the surveys mirrored the public’s perception.

Hamdi said the public expects each political party to be run democratically — and what is currently happening in PDI-P is anything but.

“If the same person gets elected again and again, that’s called a deterioration in leadership,” he said, predicting that the party will likely lose public support as a result of its nepotistic practices.

He then likened Megawati’s rule of PDI-P to that of a dictatorship.

Ikrar Nusa Bakti, a senior political researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), said the party has no chance of progressing with Megawati or her children ruling the party.

“The [experts] surveyed by Poltracking Indonesia were right in wanting to see a leader who isn’t related to Sukarno,” he said referring to Megawati’s father, the country’s first president.

But PDI-P elites are too afraid to acknowledge this, Ikrar said. “Even Joko supports Mega’s fifth term as party chief because she unites its members. If we don’t see a chairperson, Mega’s brand of leadership will age [along with Megawati], which means there will be no progress,” he said.

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