A Lawyer President in 2014?

I have been assuming that Bakrie would become Golkar’s presidential nominee for the 2014 election and that (based on the current dearth of quality potential candidates) a Bakrie and Mega run-off election was a depressing outcome.  Of course a lot could happen between now and the election.  And last week Bakrie indicated that his nomination was not guaranteed:

“It is not yet certain that I will be declared as a putative presidential candidate. Golkar possesses a mechanism in putting forth a nominee, through internally conducted opinion polls. We will see the results later… Everything depends on the results of surveys that depict the preference of the people. Whoever is the figure, the candidate from Golkar will be the best son or daughter of the nation.”

O’Rourke also notes in his latest Reformasi Newsletter that there have been discussions between Golkar strategists and the current Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court, Mahfud Mahmodin:

Golkar’s ex-military strategists appear to be considering diverse alternatives for the party’s 2014 ticket, based on signs that retired generals aiding Aburizal Bakrie, the Golkar chair, have met recently with Constitutional Court Chief Justice Mahfud Mahmodin and Solo Mayor Joko Widodo.

As I said, it’s all a long way off, but this is an interesting development.  Should Mahfud (somehow) win it would be the first time Indonesia had a President with a legal background.  Sukarno studied civil engineering, Suharto was a general, Habibie was also an engineer, Megawati studied agriculture and psychology but didn’t complete either programs, and the current president, SBY, is a former general.

The next president is important for corruption prosecutions.  Not only does the President have considerable influence over the selection of the Attorney-General, National Police Chief and the commissioners of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), but the signals the President sends vis-a-vis corruption prosecutions has an important impact on how legal officials and bureaucrats behave.

Note: Kevin O’Rourke’s weekly newsletter is an excellent overview of Indonesian politics and policy developments.  It is subscription only, however; more information is available at his website here.

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