Yudhoyono braces for election turmoil

Yudhoyono braces for election turmoil

INDONESIA - The recent meetings between President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and presidential hopefuls Lt. Gen. (ret.) Prabowo Subianto and Yusril Ihza Mahendra have caused speculation about possible political turbulence ahead of the 2014 elections.

The President held a closed-door meeting with Prabowo, the Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party chief patron, before courting Yusril, his former minister and the Crescent Star Party (PBB) chief patron, at the State Palace on Tuesday.

The meetings were held amid speculation that the graft-ridden Constitutional Court (MK), now led by a former PBB lawmaker, will rule in favour of Yusril in his petition against the Presidential Election Law.

Yusril has requested that the legislative and presidential elections be held simultaneously in a bid to scrap the presidential threshold as stipulated by the law, which he claimed had denied him his constitutional rights.

The petition, if granted by the court, could change the political constellation ahead of the polls.

A day before the meetings, the State Administrative Court (PTUN) ruled that the President's appointment of Patrialis Akbar as Constitutional Court justice was illegal. Patrialis is a former politician from the National Mandate Party (PAN), which is headed by Hatta Rajasa, the father of Yudhoyono's daughter-in-law, Siti Rubi Aliya Rajasa.

Speaking to reporters after his meeting with Yudhoyono, Prabowo said that they did not discuss a possible coalition between their parties, but the President did tell him that he wanted to "leave the stage" in the right way.

"He wants to give an example that the transition [of power] can be conducted amiably and amicably."

Prabowo is now seen as the most popular presidential candidate after Jakarta Governor and Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, whose nomination still hangs in the balance amid rumours that PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri insists on running for president for the fourth time despite her low approval rating.

Yusril said that the major parties were jittery over his move to challenge the Presidential Election Law, which has practically barred him and Prabowo and other presidential hopefuls from minor parties from joining the presidential race.

According to various surveys, only the Golkar Party and the PDI-P could garner more than 15 per cent of the popular vote in the legislative election, which would mean that they would be the only parties that would have the opportunity to nominate a presidential candidate.

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