In a stunning surprise that highlights the shifting momentum in Indonesia’s presidential election, the ruling party of outgoing president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (‘SBY’) has endorsed the presidential campaign of former general Prabowo Subianto.
Though many members of the Partai Demokrat (PD, Democratic Party) were already sympathetic to Prabowo’s campaign, its leaders indicated that the party would take a wait-and-see approach to the election earlier in the spring, when polls showed that Jakarta governor Joko Widodo (‘Jokowi’) would win the presidency by a wide margin.
Over the past month, the race has tightened as Prabowo (pictured above, left, with SBY, right) has waged a spirited campaign, high on economic nationalism and populism, and relentless in his attacks on Jokowi’s relative inexperience.
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The PD’s embrace is not so incredibly important from an organizational standpoint because the Democrats, founded by SBY in 2004, are still a relatively new force in Indonesian politics, and there’s no guarantee the party will even survive SBY’s retirement. Accordingly, the Democrats lacks the local grassroots structure of Jokowki’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P, Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan), which dates to the socialist government of Sukarno in the 1950s and Golkar (Partai Golongan Karya, Party of the Functional Groups), which dates to Suharto’s ‘New Order’ regime that spanned from 1967 to 1998. Continue reading Ruling Democrats in Indonesia endorse Prabowo