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Golkar Party leader affirms no Extraordinary National Congress amidst calls for leadership change

INDONESIA — The Chairman of the Golkar Party Central Executive Board (DPP), Lamhot Sinaga, has emphasized that the demands made by senior members of the party for an Extraordinary National Congress (Munaslub) to replace Airlangga as Chairman are baseless and unfounded.

In an interview with CNNIndonesia on Wednesday (12 Jul), Lamhot stated that any claims made by certain party members are entirely misguided.

Lamhot further claimed that the internal condition of Golkar, from its grassroots structure to the central level, is currently conducive and solid. He believes that all Golkar cadres remain united under the leadership of Airlangga.

He also denied the possibility of holding a Munaslub based on the argument that Golkar’s and Airlangga’s electability is relatively low, according to survey institutions.

“Because it is clearly stated in Golkar’s articles of association (AD/ART). For example, if there are legal issues, permanent hindrances, or resignation. It is not because of electability that a Munaslub should be held. So, those advocating for it are making baseless claims,” he said.

Regarding rumours that Airlangga has yet to declare himself as a presidential candidate, Lamhot stated that all current presidential candidates and party coalitions are still dynamic and subject to change.

He clarified that once all parties have made their declarations and only Golkar is left, then it would be appropriate to discuss the matter. However, he emphasized that such a scenario has not yet arisen.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) from 1 to 8 July, the electability of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) has risen, placing them in the top three and displacing Golkar.

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) holds the highest electability at 23.7%, followed by Gerindra at 14.2%, Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) at 6.2%, and Golkar at 6.0%.

In May, the Kompas Research and Development Institute (Litbang) also conducted a survey on the electability of political parties.

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) secured the top spot with 23.3%, followed by Gerindra with 18.6%, Democrat Party with 8%, Golkar with 7.3%, National Democratic (NasDem) with 6.3%, and National Awakening Party (PKB) with 5.5%. Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), National Mandate Party (PAN), and United Development Party (PPP) garnered 3.8%, 3.2%, and 2.9%, respectively.

Lodewijk F Paulus, the Secretary-General of the Golkar Party, Lodewijk F Paulus

The Secretary-General of the Golkar Party, Lodewijk F Paulus, affirmed that Golkar is solid and united at all levels and groups as the 2024 elections approach. He dismissed any uncertainty within the party that could weaken its political machinery.

“If we talk about Munaslub, I think it’s too far-fetched. Currently, we are focused on the Presidential Election, Legislative Election, and Regional Head Election. How can we talk about Munaslub? It doesn’t make sense,” said Lodewijk at the Nusantara II Building, Parliamentary Complex, Jakarta, on Tuesday (11 Jul).

Melchias Markus Mekeng, the Deputy Chairman of Golkar,

Meanwhile, the Deputy Chairman of Golkar, Melchias Markus Mekeng, called on the Golkar Party’s Council of Experts to provide clarification on the issue of an Extraordinary National Congress, considering the current controversy surrounding it.

“I ask the Council of Experts, as an institution, to provide a statement to avoid confusion,” said Mekeng when met at the Nusantara II Building, Parliamentary Complex, Senayan, Jakarta, on Thursday (13 Jul).

Mekeng believes that the statement already given by Council of Experts member Ridwan Hisjam does not represent the position of the Council of Experts. It is only a representation of one member.

“In my opinion, this is not an official statement from the Council of Experts. It is just one member,” he said.

Furthermore, Mekeng believed that the effort to push for a Golkar Party extraordinary national deliberation (Munaslub) was not an easy task to achieve. There are mechanisms that allow Munaslub to occur.

Mekeng explained that Munaslub can only be carried out if 2 out of 3 Regional Executive Boards (DPD) at the first level agree.

“Even the Central Board cannot do it because the vote has to be in DPD 1. So, if these figures are just talking without any real action, they are just causing chaos within the party,” he said.

Deputy Chairman of the Golkar Party, Firman Soebagyo, strongly criticized the discourse on the extraordinary national deliberation (Munaslub) to replace Airlangga Hartarto as the chairman.

Firman considered the discourse on Munaslub to be a misleading idea. He emphasized that he still believes that the 8th Plenary Meeting of the Council of Experts of the Golkar Party did not recommend Munaslub.

He urged certain senior party members to refrain from making provocative statements that could undermine party unity.

Firman also regretted that some individuals claiming to be senior members of the Golkar Party do not understand the party’s mechanisms and rules.

“On the contrary, their statements are causing political turmoil within the party and are being challenged by Golkar’s regional leaders throughout Indonesia because they are considered highly provocative and will damage the party’s solidarity in facing the upcoming elections,” he said.

Firman suspected that there were hidden individuals from outside the party attempting to manipulate Golkar members to cause internal divisions.

He called on the Chairman of the Golkar Party’s Ethics Council to take firm action and warn those involved.

Agung Laksono, the Chairman of the Council of Experts of the Golkar Party,

Chairman of the Council of Experts of the Golkar Party, Agung Laksono, who was mentioned in this controversy, denied any official recommendation regarding Munaslub.

He emphasized that the three-point recommendation made by the council was aimed at strengthening party unity, particularly in preparation for the 2024 elections and Airlangga’s potential candidacy.

“There is no recommendation for Munaslub. As the Chairman of the Council of Experts of the Golkar Party, I firmly reject the idea of Munaslub,” said Agung in his statement on Thursday (13 July).

He accused certain opportunistic individuals of attempting to raise the issue of replacing the party’s chairman. “In fact, the Council of Experts did not recommend Munaslub at all. I demand that this issue be stopped,” said Agung.

Responding to the question about who is behind the discourse on the Golkar Party’s Munaslub at the Merlynn Park Hotel, Central Jakarta, on Thursday (13 Jul), Chairman of the Golkar Party’s Political Recruitment Board (Bappilu) Nusron Wahid revealed that there are parties exploiting the Golkar Party to advance the interests of a particular presidential candidate.

According to Nusron, these parties are taking advantage of the discourse on the Golkar Party’s extraordinary national deliberation (Munaslub).

“Those who are taking advantage are people who want to use the Golkar Party as a vehicle for the presidential candidacy process of a particular individual. Something like that. Or certain parties that are trying to bargain with a specific presidential candidate,” said Nusron Wahid.

However, Nusron refused to name the parties that are taking advantage of the Golkar Party for a specific presidential candidate.

Regarding the direction of the Golkar Party’s presidential candidacy, Nusron said that Golkar is still in dialogue with various parties.

“The process is still ongoing. Regarding the issue of presidential candidacy, there are ongoing communications, so it is not yet time to evaluate or hold Munaslub,” said Nusron Wahid.

Airlangga Hartarto, the Chairman of the Golkar Party, confirmed that there would be no Munaslub. He clarified that any change in leadership would occur through a National Congress (Munas).

Airlangga stated that his priority is to work towards Golkar’s success in the 2024 elections and to prepare joint presidential candidates with other parties. He assured that there is no internal turmoil within Golkar and that the party remains solid.

With the 2024 elections on the horizon, the Golkar Party continues to navigate internal discussions while striving to maintain unity and concentrate on its electoral preparations.

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