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Cablegate: East Java: Local Elections Prove Issues Matter to Voters,

VZCZCXRO1962
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJS #0073/01 1700727
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 180727Z JUN 08
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0235
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0221
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 0240
RUEHDN/AMCONSUL SYDNEY 0004
RUEHC/USAID WASHDC
RHHMUNA/USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0121

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SURABAYA 000073

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS, EAP/MTS, INR/EAP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KISL ID
SUBJECT: EAST JAVA: LOCAL ELECTIONS PROVE ISSUES MATTER TO VOTERS,
EXCEPT IN AREAS WHERE CLERICS ARE STRONG

REF: A. A SURBAYA 56 (JAWA POS AWARDS)
B. B SURABAYA 51 (POLITICS IN EAST JAVA'S LARGEST MUSLIM ORGANIZATION)
C. C 07 SURABAYA 89 (JAWA POS SURVEY AND LOCAL ELECTIONS)

SURABAYA 00000073 001.2 OF 002


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1. (SBU) Summary: Based on the results of the most recent nine
local elections for Regent in East Java Province, two things are
clear. First, poor performance usually dooms incumbents no
matter the size of the campaign war chest. Second, in a few
more conservative districts, support from Islamic clerics
matters more than good policy. If these local elections are any
guide, elections in this second most populous Indonesian
province are increasingly reflecting voter's democratic
aspirations. While Gus Dur's National Awakening Party (PKB)
remains strong where clerics are most influential, the
Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) showed strength
in all other areas.

Jawa Pos--Polling Voter Satisfaction
-------------------------------------

2. (SBU) Each year, the Jawa Pos Pro-Autonomy Institute (JPIP)
ranks public perception of government performance in 38 East
Java regencies and cities based on public opinion surveys (Ref
A). When these rankings are compared with recent election
results, it is clear that government performance, has an
influence on voter choice, although it is mitigated by other
factors, particularly in religiously conservative regions.
Voter satisfaction with performance in the areas of Health,
Political Participation, Administration, and Accountability
seemed most strongly linked to election success. Performance in
the areas of Education and Economic Growth appeared less
directly linked. In all six of the districts where challengers
won, government performance was weakest in the categories of
Political Participation, Health, Administration, and
Accountability. High rankings in Education and Economic Growth
did not save these incumbents. Government performance in two of
the districts where an incumbent won had high ranks in Political
Participation, and to a lesser extent, Administration.
Education and Economic Growth rankings varied widely between
these districts.

3. (SBU) The incumbent won in only three out of nine recent
regency elections. In two of these regencies (Probolinggo and
Tulung Agung), the districts had average JPIP rankings and the
winning incumbent enjoyed broad political support. In the other
case (Bangkalan), the district had very low JPIP rankings, but
the incumbent still won with 80.79% of the vote. JPIP rankings
were very low in three of the six regencies won by a challenger
(Nganjuk, Bojonegoro, and Sampang). The challenger also won in
Magetan, where the regent's performance was mid-ranked (20 out
of 38). The anomaly is Pasaruan, which boasted an incumbent
with broad political support and placed second in overall JPIP
rankings.

PKB and PDI-P
-----------------

4. (SBU) In religiously conservative districts, Muslim clerics
(Kiai) continue their strong influence on local voters (Ref B).
Kiai are highly respected Islamic leaders and teachers who are
especially influential in the `Tapal Kuda' or `horseshoe-shaped'
coastline surrounding East Java's Madura Sea. Two Kiai won
elections on the island of Madura -- the incumbent in Bangkalan,
and a challenger in Pamekasan. This probably explains why
Bangkalan's incumbent was re-elected despite rock-bottom Jawa
Pos rankings and the challenger in Pamekasan defeated an
incumbent whose programs won awards from JPIP. Conversely,
candidates with strong Kiai support but low JPIP rankings lost
in Bojonegoro and Nganjuk. Both are regencies outside the Tapal
Kuda region where Kiai influence is weaker.

5. (SBU) Two major national parties seem to have divided voters
in the province -- PDI-P and PKB. Candidates supported by the
Kiai-linked National Awakening Party (PKB) were most successful
in the Tapal Kuda region. PKB was created by former Indonesian
President Gus Dur as a political outlet for members of Nahdlatul
Ulama (NU), the largest Muslim organization in Indonesia. PKB
success in the Tapal Kuda region indicates that it still wields
power where Kiai influence remains strong. However PKB's
inability to win outside of Tapal Kuda may indicate that the
growing disunity within PKB has hurt it in the province more
broadly, perhaps irreparably.

SURABAYA 00000073 002.2 OF 002

6. (SBU) Outside of Tapal Kuda, PDI-P dominated, winning three
out of three races. In Kiai-dominant district of Pasuruan, the
PDI-P candidate defeated the well-regarded incumbent supported
by Golkar and the National Mandate Party (PAN) and a second
candidate supported by PKB, the Democratic Party and Gus Dur.
The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) allied itself with two of the
victorious PDI-P candidates (including in Pasuruan), suggesting
that NU members' traditional distrust of PKS may be waning.
MCCLELLAND

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