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Cablegate: Looking Ahead to Elections, Indonesia's Political

VZCZCXRO1594
OO RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHJA #0068 0190955
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 190955Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4301
INFO RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS JAKARTA 000068

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, EAP/RSP
NSC FOR D. WALTON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM ID
SUBJECT: LOOKING AHEAD TO ELECTIONS, INDONESIA'S POLITICAL
PARTIES CHOOSE NEW LEADERS

REF: JAKARTA 1699

1. (U) SUMMARY: Moderate Islamic-oriented National Mandate
Party (PAN) boosted President Yudhoyono's clout when it
tapped his close ally as party chair--Coordinating Minister
for the Economy Hatta Rajasa. Rajasa and other leaders
emerging from Indonesia's current series of national party
congresses are likely to loom large in the political
landscape as parties gear up for 2010 regional elections.
The newly appointed party chairs will impact the dynamics of
President Yudhoyono's ruling coalition and may emerge as
presidential candidates in 2014. END SUMMARY.

KEY COALITION PARTNER CHOOSES YUDHOYONO ALLY AS CHAIR

2. (U) Parliament's fifth largest party, PAN, selected
Hatta Rajasa, formerly State Secretary and currently
Coordinating Minister for the Economy, as General Chair on
January 9. Rajasa replaces outgoing Chair Soetrisno Bachir,
who did not run for re-election. Rajasa is President
Yudhoyono's close ally and one of his most influential
advisors. PAN is often in a pivotal position in Parliament
as it sometimes shifts between the ruling and opposition
camps. This is the case now, since PAN has allied with
Yudhoyono's Partai Demokrat while Golkar and the other
secular parties have aligned with the opposition in the Bank
Century inquiry. PAN is a moderate, Islamic-oriented party
which is closely tied to Muhammadiyah, the country's second
largest Islamic organization. It has a strong urban
following as a pluralistic, nationalist party.

3. (U) At stake in the PAN election was Rajasa's
political clout and Yudhoyono's influence over a key
coalition partner. Most political pundits believe that PAN
chose Rajasa over his challenger, former MP Dradjad Wibowo,
so that Yudhoyono could shore up the coalition that
Parliament's Bank Century inquiry has destabilized. The
selection process was unconventional; at the eleventh hour,
PAN founder Amien Rais announced that no voting would take
place because a "gentleman's agreement" had been reached.
Wibowo then withdrew his candidacy amid protests. The
steering committee then appointed Rajasa as chair, Wibowo as
deputy chair, and current MP Taufik Kurniawan, as new
secretary general.

PARTY CONGRESSES DETERMINE INDONESIA'S NEXT LEADERS

4. (U) Indonesia's political parties and other mass
organizations traditionally hold "congresses" every five
years to set up new central boards, revise their
constitutions and evaluate their performance. Before the
national Congress, each district branch holds a local
congress to decide who to send to the national congress,
where the branches can vote for new leadership. Two thirds
of the branches must attend the congress. Parties also use
congresses to formulate policies and strategize for the next
elections. This is a key year for parties and candidates to
position themselves for the 2014 presidential elections, as
Indonesia will hold local-level elections throughout the
country.

5. (U) Currently, senior party politicians hold twenty of
the thirty-seven cabinet-level positions. With his new
position, Rajasa becomes one of three Ministers who hold
party chief posts. Recently elected Golkar leader Aburizal
Bakrie (also a key presidential ally - see reftel) was
previously Coordinating Minister for the People's Welfare.
As Indonesia gears up for its 2010 local level elections,
Rajasa and Bakrie will likely begin positioning themselves as
2014 presidential candidates. Meanwhile, major opposition
party Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the
President's Partai Demokrat (PD) will choose new leaders in
their congresses in April and May respectively.
HUME

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