Golkar Party chairman Setya Novanto (center). He is at risk of losing his position as Golkar Party Chairman after taken to the detention center of the Eradication Corruption Commission (KPK) despite being "ill". (photo: Golkar party)

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Golkar Party‘s support for President Joko Widodo government is likely at stake as the party is reportedly preparing an extraordinary congress in response to mounting pressure from party members calling for an election to replace current party chairman Setya Novanto, who has been detained by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) for questioning over a major scandal involving US$170 million of stolen state funds.

Yunarto Wijaya, the executive director of Jakarta-based Charta Politika, said Golkar, as one of the largest parties, will have a significant impact on the 2019 general election constellation, whether as supporters of the incumbent ruling party or the opposition.

According to him, political dynamics within Golkar would likely become more fluid if the Party holds a congress, meaning that any politician elected could be someone unwilling to join the government’s coalition.

Previously, part of the opposition coalition, Golkar – the second-largest party in Parliament behind Joko’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) – switched its support to Joko Widodo’s ruling coalition in January last year, significantly shifting the balance of power in Southeast Asia’s largest nation.

“We are unsure if Golkar will continue to support Jokowi, particularly if the party leadership ends up being replaced by other members who were not supportive of Jokowi. The Party leadership can be won by any members of Aburizal’s faction,” he said, referring to businessman Aburizal Bakrie, who had at the time sided with the government’s opposition, led by Gerindra Party.

“Any of the factions will surely propose their candidates (at the Congress),” he added.

Golkar deputy secretary-general Ace Hasan Syadzily said on Sunday that the party’s executive members would hold a meeting on Tuesday to respond to issues surrounding Setya’s case, including whether or not to hold a Congress to elect a new leader as demanded by some party members.

Airlangga Hartarto, Golkar Politician as well as the Ministry of Industry, sees such a congress occurring only if there are aspirations from regions.  Basically, internal Golkar Party already has such a mechanism regarding a congress to elect a new leader; but in fact, it should be an emerging regional concern.

“A plenary and extraordinary meeting depends on the regions,’ he said.

Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Golkar Party Aburizal Bakrie handed the fate of Setya Novanto as Chairman of the Golkar Party on the party mechanism. According to him, currently, Golkar Party remains solid.

‘Yes, we’ll see later. The one to approve the congress is DPD I [Provincial Level Executive Board],’ he said, adding that the party has its own mechanism to change its chairperson.

Senior figures and former Golkar Leader Jusuf Kalla, who also serves as Vice President of Indonesia, gave his view about the ideal criteria for the figure that will be joining the incumbent President in 2019. The unwritten criteria is that if President is from Java, the vice-president should be a non-Javanese; if the presidential candidate is a nationalist, then the vice president should be a religious figure; if the president is a politician, then the vice president should be a technocrat.

These different backgrounds of the president and vice presidential candidates are apparently important in order to gather a wider range of voters.

Written by Yosi Winosa, Email: yosi.winosa@theinsiderstories.com