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 Q+A-Indonesia's parliamentary elections and the PKS

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Q+A-Indonesia's parliamentary elections and the PKS Empty
BerichtOnderwerp: Q+A-Indonesia's parliamentary elections and the PKS   Q+A-Indonesia's parliamentary elections and the PKS Icon_minitimema 13 apr 2009 - 15:18

Q+A-Indonesia's parliamentary elections and the PKS
Mon Apr 13, 2009 8:29am EDT


JAKARTA, April 13 (Reuters) - Indonesia's president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has said his Democrat Party, which won a fifth of the vote in parliamentary elections last week, may form a coalition with the Islamist Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).

Other coalition members may include the Golkar Party, like PKS a partner in Yudhoyono's current government. Golkar won about 14-15 percent of the vote. The PKS won about 8 percent, according to quick counts and early official results, increasing its share slightly from 7.3 percent in 2004.

Here are some questions and answers about the PKS.

WHAT'S THE BACKGROUND OF THE PKS

The party was inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood and its founder, Hassan al-Banna.

It started off as the Justice Party (PK), founded in 1998 as part of Indonesia's student movement, and became the Prosperous Justice Party in 2002.

HOW HAS IT GROWN SO FAST?

The party uses study circles, where cadres recruit members to learn about the party and Islamic principles -- a system critics liken to the cell structure of communism.

The party faithful tend to be young, urban Muslims who use modern technology such as telephone text messages and sales techniques to spread the word.

Thousands of PKS volunteers go door-to-door during election campaigns to speak directly to voters, considered an unusual approach in a country where party leaders typically deliver speeches at rallies.

While it mustered about 8 percent of the vote this time, it fell far short of its target of 20 percent as some supporters switched to the Democrat Party.

A blacklist of polygamous candidates published by a feminist group named several PKS politicians, and may have been another factor in the election result.

A few months ago the party also felt a backlash after it ran a controversial advertising campaign in which it described former president Suharto as a national hero.

HOW HAS IT MANAGED TO ENTER THE MAINSTREAM?

It did well in elections in 2008 for governor in West Java and North Sumatra provinces, thanks to its focus on "clean, caring and professional" government, and its reputation for being tough on corruption.

PKS officials have so far not been found guilty of graft in any of the numerous corruption cases involving Indonesia's politicians and officials.

The party has made an effort to broaden its appeal by, for example, including women without headscarves in its political advertisements and by recruiting non-Muslim candidates.

SO WHY ARE SOME INDONESIANS NERVOUS ABOUT IT?

A recent report, backed by former President Abdurrahman Wahid, warned that PKS members were infiltrating and radicalising moderate mosques and other organisations in the predominantly Muslim country. [ID:nJAK416395] Wahid considers the PKS a threat to Indonesia's tradition of religious and cultural tolerance. The party backed a controversial anti-pornography law last year which has outraged many Hindus in Bali and Christians in Papua and other parts of the country.

HOW COULD THE PKS INFLUENCE POLICY-MAKING IN A COALITION ?

There is some speculation Yudhoyono could pick a PKS politician as his vice presidential running mate ahead of the July 8 presidential elections.

The party hopes for five cabinet posts in a coalition and would seek to influence government policy in areas such as reform of the civil service and police.

It wants to renegotiate energy and mining contracts, remove the government's fuel subsidies, and increase the budget for the environment ministry to ensure protection for the country's natural resources.

It would also push for increased trade with the Middle East, and attract direct investment in the agricultural and energy sectors from countries such as Saudi Arabia. (Reporting by Sara Webb and Sunanda Creagh; Editing by Ed Davies and Jerry Norton)


©️ Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved
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