Radio Australia: New Indonesian party names its preferred presidential candidate
04 August 2011
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August 4, 2011 21:51:12
Supporters of former Indonesian finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati have registered a new political party to promote her as a possible presidential candidate in 2014. Party officials of the Independent People's Union or SRI say her ethical. clean and capable leadership would help establish a better Indonesia.
Correspondent: Kanaha Sabapathy Speakers: Wimar Witoelar, Commentator; Dr Umar Juoro, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Information Development Studies, Indonesia
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SABAPATHY: Sri Mulyani Indrawati currently a managing director at the World Bank is neither a paying member of the new party nor has she endorsed its promotion of her as a presidential candidate.
But the party the Independent People's Union with her name SRI as its acronym represents the support that she has among the mainly middle class Indonesians who felt that she was unjustly framed by the opposition political parties over the Bank Century bailout scandal during her term as finance minister.
Commentator Wimar Witoelar a strong supporter of Sri Mulyani and a backer of the new party says the bailout actually saved Indonesia.
WITOELAR: The bailout was the one thing that saved Indonesia from a financial collapse. So alot of people outside the government, outside the parties were fuming and depending on the Democrat Party and the president, which did not defend her. But now that she is no longer a part of this government these people can now stage an independent movement. We are certainly not a part of this govenment nor are we part of any political party. Most of them are professionals who are not with political parties but who have considerable political experience
SABAPATHY: Wimar Witoelar describes the new party as the expression of a middle class revolution for a clean government .
But given the entrenched power of established parties like Golkar and the PDIP with big money behind them to buy votes and to reach out across Indonesia's far flung islands what chance does party SRI have?
Mr Witoelar says while other parties have to buy loyalties and pay for services this all comes probono for party SRI. And he says its the intention of the party to remain free of big business.
WITOELAR: When the election time comes along of course we will need money but when we are launched we will accept contributions in limited amounts from various people. We are not accepting any large pontributions from any business people who have dubious political entanglement.
SABAPATHY: Party SRI had to register by August 22nd to participate in the 2014 elections but it did not need to nominate its preferred presidential candidate.
Mr Witoelar says they did this so as to get the people together to nominate Sri Mulyani and to prepare for the campaign.
But given the lead time before a party needs to announce its presidential nominee in July 2013, Dr Umar Juoro, senior research fellow at the Centre for Information Development Studies in Jakarta says Sri Mulyani could be nabbed by other established parties.
JUORO: They know that for the presidential candidate it has alot to do with the popularity of the candidate. At least the current view here is that she has the potential to be one of the popular candidate. It is a very important capital as a way to getting support from the established party if Sri Mulyani is interested or the party is interested. So there still is possibility there. Because even the Party Democrat, SBY's party they still don't have their own candidate yet.
SABAPATHY: Dr Juoro also believes her chances are better with established parties rather than a new party.
JUORO: Because it's extremely hard to get even the threshold and we do not know yet what the threshold would be. But even for three percent its extremely hard for this country.
SABAPATHY: But Mr Witoelar remains confident that Sri Mulyani a champion for clean govenment, led by a party of technocrats with no past political affiliations will bring back some 60 percent of disaffected eligible voters to the polling booth.
WITOELAR: Those are the people we would run to and we want to stage a, actually a government reform not through violent means, not through money but through sheer voting power. So this will be a vote for a clean government.