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Cablegate: East Java: Razor Thin Victory in Run-Off Election Signals

VZCZCXRO0969
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJS #0131/01 3191028
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 141028Z NOV 08
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0329
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0314
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0150
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0158
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 0334

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SURABAYA 000131

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, INR/EAP, DRL, DRL/AHW, EAP/PD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM SOCI KISL ID
SUBJECT: EAST JAVA: RAZOR THIN VICTORY IN RUN-OFF ELECTION SIGNALS
VOTER APATHY AND PARTY DISUNITY

REF: A. SURABAYA 94 (EAST JAVA'S FIRST FEMALE GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE)
B. SURABAYA 88 (WEAK PARTY LOYALTY LEADS TO RUN-OFF ELECTION)
C. SURABAYA 51 (POLITICS IN EAST JAVA'S NU)

SURABAYA 00000131 001.2 OF 002


This message is sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: In the November 4 run-off election to select
East Java's governor, low turnout and a lack of party discipline
saw former Provincial Secretary Soekarwo squeak out a narrow
(less than 1%) victory over East Java's first female
gubernatorial candidate Khofifah. Although early exit polling
unanimously called the election immediately for Khofifah,
legally binding manual counts by the provincial election
commission (KPUD) officially called the election for Soekarwo a
week later. East Java has avoided the sort of post election
violence that has marred other recent hard-fought governors'
races. Most striking in this race was the clear failure of
Indonesia's major national political parties to select viable
candidates and get out the vote. Local observers unanimously
called this election in Indonesia's second largest province a
message to presidential candidates that outreach to voters and
focus on issues, rather than traditional party politics, is
critical in direct elections.

Too Close to Call
----------------------

2. (SBU) After none of the five original candidates garnered
sufficient votes during the July 23 East Java Governor's
election, a run-off between the top two tickets
--Soekarwo/Syaifullah Yusuf (supported by the National Mandate
Party (PAN), Party Democrat (PD), and the Prosperous Justice
Party (PKS)) and Khofifah Indar Parawansa/Mudjiono (supported by
the United Development Party (PPP), the Patriot Party, and a
coalition of smaller parties) -- was held on November 4. Early
election-day exit polls suggested victory for Khofifah by less
than 1% of the vote, well within the "quick counts" margin of
error. However, after a manual count of the votes, the KPU
called the election for Soekarwo, by a margin of 0.4% or just
60,233 votes (50.20% to 49.80%). Observers credit unanimity
among conservative NU voters on the island of Madura for
Soekarwo's victory.

3. (SBU) Neither candidate generated much enthusiasm amongst
the electorate before the run-off and the KPU's disorganization
helped depress turnout. Many voters in Surabaya and Sidoarjo,
for example, received their voter registration cards just the
night before the run-off. According to the KPU, voter
participation was only 54.32%, down from 61% during July's
regular election. Major party endorsements did not seem to help
either candidate in the run-off. Most supporters of first-round
losing candidates stayed home on November 4, according to data
compiled by Indonesia's Survey Research Institution. Alleging
voter fraud in Madura, Khofifah has pledged to challenge the
official results by filing a law suit with the Constitutional
Court and the United Nations.

Influence of Gender and Kiai
------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Gender appears to have helped as well as hurt the first
female gubernatorial candidate in East Java. The Indonesian
Survey Institute (LSI) noted that women chose Khofifah in large
numbers. However, Soekarwo benefited from the reluctance of
influential NU clerics, "Kiai", in the "Horse Shoe" regions
ringing the Madura Sea to support a female candidate. It also
didn't hurt that Soekarwo's running mate has the "royal blood"
of NU, as the grandson of one of the NU's founding fathers and
nephew of former President Gus Dur. With this patrimony,
Soekarwo and Syaifullah Yusuf successfully overcame NU National
Chairman Hasyim Muzadi's instruction to NU members to support
Khofifah, head of the NU women's division. Furthermore, PKS's
decision to endorse Soekarwo was in part motivated by devout
Muslim PKS rank and file unwilling to support a female
candidate, according to a local party leader's press interview.

What Happened to The Party Machines?
--------------------------------------------- -----

5. (SBU) With their candidates defeated in the first round, the
major parties were left flat-footed in choosing a candidate to
endorse in the runoff. Indonesia Democratic Party of Struggle
(PDI-P) Chairman Megawati's endorsement of Khofifah in the
run-off pulled some votes away from Soekarwo. Khofifah garnered
votes in the "Arek" and the "Mataram" areas of East Java, PDI-P

SURABAYA 00000131 002.2 OF 002


strongholds, suggesting PDI-P was successful in getting out the
vote, at least in some areas. Local observers told ConGen
Surabaya that Megawati's instructions were followed by 100% of
executive board members in East Java's regencies and cities,
even if PDI-P voters did not necessarily vote as directed.
Soekarwo received run-off endorsements from both the National
Awakening Party (PKB) and Golkar, but in a repeat of the July
election, neither party seemed able to deliver its voters to the
polling stations in the face of internal party struggles.

The Outlook for 2009 Presidential Election
--------------------------------------------- --------

6. (SBU) Local political observers agreed that the election
result would bolster President Yudhoyono's confidence about the
ability of his small Democratic Party to compete with the
political machines of large parties, such as PDI-P and Golkar.
However, they argued the real message of this election was that
voters were influenced more by issues and personal appeal than
by political parties. The low turnout indicates that voters
were uninspired by the candidates on the ballot and unwilling to
vote simply based on a party leader's instructions. Neither
candidate offered firm policy proposals, such as how to resolve
the Sidoarjo mudflow crisis or address growing malnutrition
rates, preferring instead to lobby religious leaders and others
through gifts of cars and donations of food packages to poor
communities. In response, almost half of East Java's electorate
decided there was no reason to vote. How presidential
candidates are able to reach these undecided/uninspired voters
may be the key to success in 2009.
MCCLELLAND

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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