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NEW UPDATES Asean Affairs   22 May 2014  

Indonesian leader's corruption-mired party to sit out poll

JAKARTA: The Indonesian leader's crisis-hit party said Tuesday it would not formally back either of the contenders running to be president at July elections after failing to field its own candidate.

The decision to play no substantial role in the vote highlights the dramatic fall from grace of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's once powerful Democratic Party following a string of corruption scandals.

The July 9 presidential election is a fight between frontrunner Joko Widodo, known by his nickname of Jokowi, and ex-general Prabowo Subianto, and both have been forming coalitions in recent weeks to support their bids.

But Democratic Party executive director Syarief Hasan told reporters on Tuesday that "the Democratic Party will not formally join either... camp".

However he said that the party, which currently governs at the head of a six-party coalition, would decide at a later date who to support.

The Democratic Party was created in 2001 to carry Yudhoyono to the presidency in 2004.

He stormed to a second term five years later on a corruption-fighting platform only for support to collapse after leading party members, from the sports minister to the treasurer, became embroiled in graft scandals.

The party saw its support halve to around 10 per cent at legislative elections in April, far below the 25 per cent of the national vote needed to field a candidate at the presidential polls in July.

There was speculation it may try to put forward a candidate by joining up with smaller parties but a coalition did not materialise.

Yudhoyono was constitutionally barred from running for a third term.

Paul Rowland, a Jakarta-based independent analyst, said of the Democratic Party's decision: "Certainly it's a fall from grace in terms of their direction over the past decade."

Widodo, who won legions of followers during his time as Jakarta governor due to his common touch, has been leading opinion polls for months.

However the race tightened Monday when the country's second-biggest party, Golkar, unexpectedly joined Prabowo's coalition, making it larger than the one backing Widodo in terms of the national vote.-- AFP/nd

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More






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