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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09JAKARTA557
2009-03-27 09:53:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Jakarta
Cable title:  

LEGISLATIVE ELECTIONS -- KEY OPPOSITION PARTY

Tags:   PGOV  KDEM  ID 
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VZCZCXRO1947
OO RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHJA #0557/01 0860953
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 270953Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1971
INFO RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 JAKARTA 000557 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, EAP/RSP
NSC FOR E.PHU

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/27/2019
TAGS: PGOV KDEM ID
SUBJECT: LEGISLATIVE ELECTIONS -- KEY OPPOSITION PARTY
RALLIES ITS BASE; NEW PARTY TRIES TO MAKE MARK

REF: JAKARTA 520 AND PREVIOUS

Classified By: Pol/C Joseph L. Novak, reasons 1.4(b+d).



1. (C) SUMMARY: It's a full court press ahead of April 9,
election day for Indonesia's national legislature and other
bodies. Working to mobilize its considerable grassroots
base, Indonesia's key opposition party, PDI-P, held a large
rally on March 24 in Jakarta. Golkar Party is also revving
up its engines, with party chief VP Kalla leading rallies in
populous West Java. In the meantime, several NGO's are
urging that the GOI postpone the elections, citing concerns
about voter list inaccuracies and alleged voter fraud. The
GOI says the elections will be held as scheduled. END
SUMMARY.

KEY OPPOSITION PARTY SHOWS GRASSROOTS APPEAL



2. (SBU) Indonesia's many political parties are working to
get out the vote ahead of the April 9 national parliamentary
elections. Larger parties are holding rallies, while some
smaller parties are saving their money and doing door to door
campaigning. Leading candidates from wealthier parties such
as President Yudhoyono's Partai Demokrat (PD) and Golkar are
using chartered airplanes and helicopters to barnstorm
through their constituencies. All parties are focused on
teaching the voters how to actually mark the complicated
ballots correctly and vote for the party of their choice.



3. (SBU) Trying to catch up to the President's PD party in
the polls, Indonesia's main opposition party has been active.
On March 24, Poloff and Pol FSN attended a grassroots rally
for the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) in
Jakarta. The rally, which exemplified PDI-P's populist-based
appeal, was aimed primarily at the working-class poor.



4. (U) In true Javanese easy-going style, the rally got off
to a slow start due to confusion about time and a last minute
change of venue. Candidates and party members showed up to
the rally impressively (if somewhat comically), in small
motorized pedicabs flying red PDI-P banners. The vehicles
were emblazoned with PDI-P's ballot number, "28," and party
leader (and former president) Megawati's picture. All the
seats inside the extremely hot venue were filled with a sea
of men wearing red PDI-P shirts, sprinkled with a few Muslim
women wearing headscarves. About 40 young men danced to
traditional dangdut (Indonesian folk) music.



5. (U) A floor to ceiling banner on the stage bore
Megawati's beaming countenance. The banner read: "We are
nothing without the people; we are big because of the people;
we fight for the people." At the bottom, a poster declared
(apparently paraphrasing Lincoln): "Together, we'll make a
government for and by the poor people." Cellular phone
Company Telkomsel, the rally sponsor, announced that if the

audience sms'ed "Mega space 888" they will be registered for
free vouchers and will get a ringtone with Megawati's voice.



6. (U) Very few women attended, partly because new
regulations for child protection prohibit the participation
in rallies of children under the voting age (17). While this
is meant only to protect children, in practice it limits
women's participation in rallies, since many have to stay
home with their children. Some choose to ignore this,
however, and the number one national campaign violation so
far is bringing children to rallies.

VICE PRESIDENT LEADS RALLY IN WEST JAVA



7. (SBU) Another heavyweight party is also working to
mobilize its supporters. The Golkar Party, contending with
PDI-P for the number two spot in opinion polls, focused its
recent campaigning on West Java, Indonesia's largest province
by population with over 42 million residents. Golkar is
still stinging from its loss in the gubernatorial race there
last year to an Islamic-oriented party (PKS/PAN)-supported
coalition.



8. (SBU) Golkar Chair, Vice President Kalla, told crowds
that "Without West Java, Golkar is nothing." Kalla, who has
said he "is ready" to be Golkar's presidential candidate if
his party does well in the April 9 elections, has adopted a
populist approach during this campaign and he did his best to
excite the crowd. He promised them more job opportunities
and free education.


JAKARTA 00000557 002 OF 002


NEW PARTY AIMS TO CROSS THRESHOLD



9. (C) In the meantime, a new party is trying to make a
mark. The populist, secular-oriented Gerindra Party, which
has yet to hold a Jakarta rally but has held rallies across
the country, may be the only new party to cross the
parliamentary threshold (see reftel). Fueled by Gerindra
presidential candidate general (ret'd) Prabowo Subianto's
(and his family's) money and connections, it has been doing
well for a new party, polling at roughly 4%. Gerindra has
almost twice the support of Prabowo's former military
colleague Wiranto (one name only) and his Hanura Party.



10. (C) The head of the Farmers' Association, an NGO,
Prabowo has emphasized education, farmer's rights and poverty
alleviation in his campaign. Despite his dubious history as
a military commander, including accusations of human rights
abuses, he claims that his is "the party of the
dispossessed." If Gerindra can sustain its performance, it
seems likely that it will cross the parliamentary threshold
(2.5% of the national vote) that the law requires for a party
to enter Parliament.

CALLS FOR POSTPONING POLLS FALL ON DEAF EARS



11. (SBU) Finally, two NGO's have added their voices to
calls for the GOI to delay the polls. TEPI, the Indonesian
Voters Committee, and the Indonesian Parliamentary Center
have said that the national Election Commission (KPU) should
postpone the election until it has resolved alleged voter
list inaccuracies, corrected and redistributed misprinted
ballots, and addressed allegations of fraud in voter lists.
However, the KPU, despite admitting to the need to replace
5.7 million invalid ballot papers, has so far clung to the
April 9 legislative election date and there is no concrete
indication of any sort at this time that the GOI will shift
that stance.


HUME