Sat, 15 May 2004

Councillors start to build coalitions

Bambang Nurbianto, Jakarta

Political parties that won seats on the City Council have begun sounding out possible coalitions in order to achieve their mutual goals, cognizant of the fact that the April 5 legislative election failed to produce any single winner.

"Cooperation is the consequence of the absence of a single majority. We have begun sounding out possible cooperation with parties that are prepared to work toward mutual objectives," said Igo Ilham, a councillor-elect of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) on Friday.

A similar comment came from Solekan Sularno of the Democratic Party who said his party was ready to cooperate with any party in trying to set up a coalition for the benefit of their respective constituents.

"I think the interests of our respective constituents are similar. Therefore, cooperation among councillors from different parties is needed," said Sularno, who is a teacher at a junior high school in West Jakarta.

With 24 percent of the total ballots in the city, the PKS is now the largest party in the council, followed by the Democratic Party with 21.33 percent. The PKS and Democratic Party will have 18 and 16 seats respectively in the 75-seat council.

Igo said that PKS's Jakarta chapter had asked each of its councillors to build communication with councillors from different parties.

According to Igo, such communication will take place informally in various ways including house visits, family gathering and dinners.

"From a personal approach, we will know more about the people we expect to cooperate with us," said Igo, a councillor-elect from South Jakarta.

Wilson Hutasoit, a councilor-elect from the Prosperous Peace Party (PDS), also stated the readiness of his party to cooperate with other parties, including PKS, which stressed "caring and anticorruption".

"Let's prove to the people that the statements we have made are not just empty slogans. We are ready to cooperate with any party," said Wilson, adding that his party was also committed to fighting corruption, collusion and nepotism (KKN).

He stressed that all councillors should be committed to the anticorruption movement or, at the very least, councillors should pledge that they will not get involved in corruption.

"I don't want my wealth to take me to hell," said Wilson, whose party will have four seats on the council. He said he now lived in a rented house in South Jakarta.

From the 24 political parties taking part in the election, only nine won seats on the council.

Other parties that won seats are the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (11 seats), the Golkar Party (seven), the United Development Party (six), the National Mandate Party (six), the National Awaking Party (four), and the Reform Star Party (three).

Poor education, flooding, poverty, and transportation problems are issues often raised by politicians in their campaigns.

Igo stressed that the PKS faction in the council would hire expert advisors so that the faction could propose solutions to all problems in an appropriate way. "They are needed because we have the political will, but don't know much about 'how'," he added.