Return of the dynasties

Return of the dynasties
Ms Siti Hediati is pushing hard on the message that Indonesia needs direction and firm leadership.

Her campaign posters bear the image of her father, former president Suharto, in the hopes that voters looking for strong leadership and stability would cast a vote for his daughter, Ms Siti Hediati Suharto, and her Golkar party.

Ms Siti Hediati, popularly known as Titiek, is running for a parliamentary seat in Yogyakarta. At rallies over the past three weeks, she has pushed hard on the message that Indonesia needs the sort of clear direction and firm leadership that her father provided during his years in power, especially in the 1980s and early 1990s. "If you want to return to the past, choose a member of the Suharto family" is a constant refrain at her appearances.

The candidacy of the 54-year-old Ms Siti Hediati, who also happens to be the ex-wife of Gerindra Party presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, marks a political comeback of sorts for the Suharto clan.

Suharto fell from power in 1998, and for a long while, his family lay low as memories of the nepotism and corruption during his later years in power remained fresh among voters.

But decades on, with a slackening of economic growth and popular frustration over some of the elected politicians who came after him, the Suharto family has decided that nostalgia for the good parts of his strongman rule could allow its re-entry into the political arena.

For now it is only Titiek, out of the six Suharto children, who is standing. Her elder sister, Ms Siti Hardiyanti Rukmana, or Tutut, lends her support on the campaign trail.

While many acknowledge that Indonesia is a flourishing democracy, the idea of inherited power has not gone away either.

The image of first president Sukarno appears alongside that of his daughter, former president Megawati Sukarnoputri of the Indonesian Democratic Party - Struggle (PDI-P).

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