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March 10, 2009

Indonesia Elections:
Golkar, PPP ‘to cooperate’ for votes

Leaders of Indonesia’s Golkar Party and the Islamic-based United Development Party (PPP) agreed Saturday to cooperate ahead of the elections, targeting a total of 51 percent of 550 seats up for grabs at the House of Representatives, reported the Jakarta Post.

With legislative elections scheduled for April 9, Vice President and Golkar chairman Jusuf Kalla said Golkar had “agreed to form a political coalition” with the PPP to rake in more than half of House seats for the 2009-2012 period.

He was speaking after meeting with PPP chairman Suryadarma Ali at a closed-door meeting at Golkar headquarters in West Jakarta.

Golkar leaders also previously met with leaders of another Islamic-based party, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), in a bid to augment its voter base.

The PPP is the oldest of the country’s Islamic-based parties. Established in the early days of the New Order era as a merger of several parties in 1971, its logo is a depiction of the Ka’bah, the holiest site in Islam, toward which all Muslims must face when praying.

Though its popularity dwindled with the rise of dozens of new parties, the PPP still managed a respectable 10.7 percent of votes in the 2004 elections, coming mostly from Aceh, Tasikmalaya in West Java, Jepara in Central Java, Pamekasan in East Java, and Banjar in South Kalimantan.

Suryadarma said the coalition would probably last until the presidential election in July, though he gave no indication the PPP would back Kalla’s possible bid for the presidency.

The meeting also resulted in five points of agreement for the two parties’ future cooperation. These were “cultivating togetherness”; monitoring the 2009 elections; supporting the current administration; “strengthening democracy and a simple multiparty system”; and building cooperation with other parties. Suryadarma said the coalition was also open to other parties.

“We have to work together. We have different ideas, but we are still bothers and sisters,” he said.
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