Wed, 29 Mar 2000

PDI Perjuangan challenges ahead

The ongoing congress of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) in Semarang, Central Java, has, for the party in particular and the nation's democratic process, after the first truly democratically elected government, a special historical significance. Because the result of the general election was a coalition-based government and the administration that followed showed weaknesses in terms of lack of policy coordination among ministers.

Officially, there is no opposition party, but critical groups and individuals began to speak out, giving the impression that the reformist progressive administration or Cabinet, is on the defense.

PDI Perjuangan and its ministers have been singled out for attacks with political purposes in mind. Some critics have spared no time in pointing out that the government's economic policy was bound to fail. The 2000 state budget was said by a critic to be lacking in vision, something that was clearly more politically motivated. PDI Perjuangan, naturally, had to respond to these charges, founded or unfounded.

The Semarang congress should end with a solidifying of its ranks vis-a-vis the opposition forces and the selection of new cadres who are less selfish and more dedicated to the ideals and aspirations of the party. How many such committed idealists are left following the victory in the general election which brought the party to power with the most votes?

It is disappointing, indeed, that PDI Perjuangan should have to rely on almost the same cadres, at least at the top positions. The selection by the congress of Megawati Soekarnoputri as the "new" general chairwoman indicates a strong unity among the party loyalists to the present leadership. But it is interesting to watch if Megawati can cope with the fact that she must also function as the country's vice president without the opposition forces or elements of discontent having more opportunities to shoot their targets. Even within PDI Perjuangan ranks, corruption is openly committed.

The party leaders have to work very hard and be more dedicated if the party wants to retain a majority in the 2004 proposed direct general elections. Being a Hajjah, perhaps Megawati has a better chance.