Viewing cable 04JAKARTA711
Title: YUDHOYONO: A MAN FOR ALL PARTIES

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
04JAKARTA7112004-01-26 08:46:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 SECRET Embassy Jakarta
P 260846Z JAN 04
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4057
INFO ASEAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY PRIORITY
NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
S E C R E T  JAKARTA 000711 
 
 
NSC FOR KAREN BROOKS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/26/2014 
TAGS: PGOV KDEM ID
SUBJECT: YUDHOYONO: A MAN FOR ALL PARTIES 
 
REF: A. JAKARTA 76 
     ¶B. 03 JAKARTA 8778 
 
(U) Classified by Political Officer David R. Greenberg, 
reason 1.4 (d). 
 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
¶1. (C) Coordinating Minister for Political and Security 
Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has stated openly his 
intention to run for the presidency in 2004.  He has not yet 
declared allegiance to any particular political party, 
however, and, consequently, is both widely courted and 
criticized as indecisive.  Yudhoyono's many options 
illustrate his broad appeal and potential to become the 
consensus candidate of a broad but not-yet-extant coalition. 
If he fails to make the right choice at the right time, 
however, he may wind up with little or no chance to win high 
office.  End Summary. 
 
THE WAITING GAME 
---------------- 
 
¶2. (C) Yudhoyono, who competed in 2001's People's 
Consultative Assembly (MPR) election for the vice presidency 
as the Muslim Sovereignty Union (PDU) nominee, long has 
appeared as a potential presidential candidate for 2004.  He 
directed the creation of the Democratic Party (PD) in 2002, 
although refusing to take a party position or to encourage 
publicly the perception that he would be PD's presidential 
nominee.  As the 2004 elections approached, other parties 
began to consider Yudhoyono a potential standard-bearer. 
Credible polls enhanced his appeal, as he rose in popularity 
throughout 2003, often placing second only to President 
Megawati.  In early January 2004, press articles quoted 
Yudhoyono saying he intended to run for the presidency and, 
accordingly, would resign from the cabinet when parties must 
nominate their candidates (early May 2004).  He declined to 
identify his political party of choice, however. 
 
THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY (PD): THE BIRD IN THE HAND 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
¶3. (C) PD is a newcomer to the political scene and is widely 
seen as Yudhoyono's political machine; Yudhoyono's image 
graces the business card of party Chairman Budhisantoso as 
well as banners and stickers throughout the party 
headquarters.  Yudhoyono himself designed the party logo and 
drafted the by-laws.  In founding PD, Yudhoyono reportedly 
had the encouragement of 100 appointed members of the 
People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) and many local officials 
in conflict areas, such as Aceh and Papua.  Budhisantoso 
claimed PD has issued six million membership cards, although 
he admitted that he was uncertain of winning that many votes 
and twice mentioned to us he and the party suffered from a 
lack of funds.  PD has no distinctive ideological appeal and 
is reportedly hurt by weak organization.  Most of our 
contacts from other political parties readily dismiss PD's 
prospects of passing the threshold required to nominate a 
presidential candidate.  (Note: the threshold is three 
percent of the seats in the House of Representative or five 
percent of the popular vote.  End Note.) 
 
THE NATIONAL AWAKENING PARTY (PKB) 
---------------------------------- 
 
¶4. (C) Some of Yudhoyono's advisors tell us the Coordinating 
Minister recognizes PD's weaknesses and is holding out for 
the nomination of one of Indonesia's larger parties.  The 
party of choice, according to TB "Benny" Silalahi, a former 
Minister of State for Administrative Reform and now a member 
of Yudhoyono's campaign team, is the National Awakening Party 
(PKB).  In this scenario, former President (and PKB overlord) 
Abdurrachman Wahid, realizing that he cannot campaign 
credibly after his 2001 impeachment, decides to support 
Yudhoyono.  Several PKB contacts close to Wahid, including 
his daughter Yenny, have told us Yudhoyono is the figure most 
likely to gain Wahid's support if Wahid decides to withdraw 
-- a development no one guarantees.  According to Silalahi, 
20 of PKB's 30 provincial boards were supportive of a 
Yudhoyono nomination, with the remaining 10 likely soon to 
fall in line.  Silalahi claimed one main stumbling block for 
Yudhoyono was Wahid's high price for shifting roles from 
candidate to kingmaker.  Wahid reportedly wanted Yudhoyono to 
choose a PKB running mate and reserve half of his cabinet 
positions for PKB. 
 
PD: WE CAN SHARE, BUT WE DON'T LIKE RADICALS 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
¶5. (C) Noting that his main goal was to promote Yudhoyono's 
election, PD Chairman Budhisantoso told us he saw PKB more as 
a potential partner than as a rival for Yudhoyono's 
attention.  He said he had received positive signals from 
various factions within PKB and hoped to meet soon with 
former President Wahid.  He asserted that "hundreds" of 
Ulamas (senior Islamic figures) had expressed their support 
for Yudhoyono's candidacy.  Other Islamic parties aside from 
PKB also appear to view Yudhoyono positively; National 
Mandate Party (PAN) Chairman Amien Rais publicly named 
Yudhoyono as a possible running mate, and even officials of 
the staunchly Islamist Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) have 
suggested that they could support Yudhoyono.  But 
Budhisantoso was cool to an alliance of Islamic parties 
coalescing behind Yudhoyono; he warned that radical Islamists 
were the main enemies of Indonesia as a unitary state, and 
they would be difficult to control if Yudhoyono depended on 
their support. 
 
GOLKAR 
------ 
 
¶6. (C) Golkar party Chairman Akbar Tandjung in February 2003 
raised the possibility of Yudhoyono becoming Golkar's 
presidential nominee, when he provided the media with a short 
list that included the Coordinating Minister.  Yudhoyono did 
not register for Golkar's presidential convention process, 
however, and several Golkar Vice Chairmen have privately 
dismissed the idea of their party choosing Yudhoyono over 
other high-profile figures who have been courting Golkar's 
provincial, city, and regency boards for the past eight 
months.  Nevertheless, both Silalahi and Yudhoyono advisor 
Denny J.A. separately told us that, because of Yudhoyono's 
popularity, Akbar Tandjung had indicated a willingness to let 
Yudhoyono head Golkar's ticket, with Akbar as his running 
mate.  They added that Akbar might also continue to pursue 
his own presidential campaign and offer Yudhoyono the vice 
presidency. 
 
¶7. (C) Budhisantoso confided that potential Golkar 
presidential nominee Wiranto had dispatched a retired 
four-star General with a message that Yudhoyono should not 
run in the 2004 election.  Budhisantoso said this message was 
not intended as a threat.  He noted Yudhoyono felt no 
particular loyalty to Wiranto, citing Wiranto's once having 
blocked Yudhoyono from assuming a military command in 
Sumatra.  Budhisantoso also said Yudhoyono had no reason to 
fear Wiranto, as Wiranto, when accused of human rights 
violations in East Timor, had sought "protection" from 
Yudhoyono in his capacity as Coordinating Minister. 
 
PDI-P 
----- 
 
¶8. (S) Yudhoyono also has drawn the attention of leading 
Indonesian Democratic Party - Struggle (PDI-P) figures 
dissatisfied with Megawati's leadership.  Vice Chairmen 
Arifin Panigoro and Roy Janis -- both lead significant 
factions of PDI-P -- have told us of their interest in 
supporting Yudhoyono instead of Megawati (ref A).  According 
to Denny JA, Yudhoyono also has the support of some 
senior-generation nationalists within PDI-P, such as 
parliamentarian Abdul Madjid.  And Budhisantoso said 
grassroots-level PDI-P party cadres were seeking to defect to 
PD, specifically mentioning a group of 3,000 in Lampung 
province.  Budhisntoso said he was wary of taking in 
sympathizersfrom other parties because, at this stage, 
Yudhoono did not want to antagonize other political leaders. 
 
A RUNNING MATE 
----------------- 
 
9.(C) Many presidential hopefuls have considered tapping 
Yudhoyono as their vice-presidential running mate, drawn by 
his ethical image, intellectual prowess, military background, 
Javanese ethnicity -- and, perhaps most importantly, his 
reputation for loyalty.  Silalahi said Yudhoyono had told him 
that Megawati had offered him the vice presidency, but he was 
reluctant to accept .  First, he did not respect Megawati, 
due to her lack of education and vision, plus her husband's 
corruption.  Second, he feared a recurrence of the 1999 
"Anyone But Mega" dynamic, which might drag him down along 
with the President.  PD Chairman Budhisantoso also told us 
Yudhoyono had long assured his advisors that he would not 
settle for the Vice Presidency.  If his ambitions were 
limited to the number two position, Budhisantoso pointed out, 
why go through all the effort required to build his own party? 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
¶10. (C) Many Indonesians consider Yudhoyono indecisive and 
interpret his failure to date to announce his presidential 
candidacy as a further indicator of his cautious temperament. 
 Nevertheless, we believe Yudhoyono has played his cards 
well.  The Democratic Party offers him a fallback option and 
a degree of bargaining leverage as he waits for a larger 
party's nomination.  PD should easily go along with any 
arrangement that would boost Yudhoyono's prospects, even if 
it means another party takes the lead.  Delaying the 
announcement of his candidacy makes it easier for Yudhoyono 
to remain in place as Coordinating Minister, a position that 
offers him constant and generally positive media exposure. 
He likely recalls that Islamic intellectual Nurcholish Madjid 
received a burst of coverage when first announcing his 
candidacy but has been largely dismissed after his clumsy 
entry into and then withdrawal from Golkar's process (ref B). 
 
¶11. (C) Yudhoyono's many options reflect his positive image 
in the eyes of top politicians.  His personal popularity 
implies that his impact in the presidential race, assuming he 
can secure nomination by a qualifying party or coalition, 
would exceed the vote tallies garnered by his political 
vehicle in the legislative election.  So long as matters in 
political parties appear unsettled or open to change, 
Yudhoyono will keep popping up on candidate short lists. 
However, as the pieces of the various puzzles fall into 
place, Yudhoyono will find avenues closing off, and he will 
have to show he can act decisively, or he might find rival 
candidates have locked up large constituencies.  But a few 
deft moves, combined with some lucky breaks, could allow 
Yudhoyono to pull together key social and political groups in 
support of a powerful presidential run. 
 
 
Boyce