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Oyos Saroso H.N.

Public figures who want to contend the Lampung governor race as independents have found democracy to be rather costly, with many possible contenders buying votes to secure enough political support to run.

One contender, Andi Arif, 37, said after securing the support of 170,000 residents in the past year, he faces difficulty finding the remaining 70,000 endorsements he needs to run in the next two weeks. Aside from a lack of time and money, he has to have obtained political support from 50 percent of 11 regencies and municipalities in the province.

Law No. 32/2004 requires independents to obtain support from a minimum of 4 percent, or 280,000 of the seven million people in the province, one of several legal requirements to contend the race.

Potential candidates must provide copies of residents’ I.D cards to prove they have acquired the necessary quota.

Andi, a former member of People’s Democratic Party (PRD) who was one of the victims of abduction by former president Soeharto’s authoritarian regime, said he would be the running mate to former rector of Lampung University Muhajir Utomo to contend the race, scheduled for Sept. 2, 2009.

Andi said he has had difficulty gathering political support as several residents no longer have their identity cards.

With Muhajir and their team, he set up special posts in sub-districts and villages to distribute basic commodities such as rice, cooking oil, kerosene and noodles to people in an effort to build their support base.

Former chief of the Jakarta Police Comr. Gen. (ret.) Sofyan Jacob claims to have collected I.D. cards from 140,000 residents — but admits to having spent a lot of money doing so.

He said he was optimistic about collecting copies of 280,000 I.D. cards from people in the 11 regencies and municipalities to be able to run for governor.

“I went from one village to another to seek support from people who only gave their political support if they were given something, like money, rice or other things,” Sofyan said.

Regional representative Kasmir Triputra and Lampung councillor Doroini Ali, renowned lawyer Hendry Yosodiningrat and Central Lampung regent Andy Achmad have also confirmed their candidacy as independents.

Kasmir admitted he had launched a preliminary campaign to gain enough endorsements, given the difficulty of collecting support from 280,000 residents.

His teams were deployed to villages to sponsor new identity cards for residents to secure their political support.

So far, four pairs nominated by political parties have confirmed their candidacy for the race. They are incumbent governor Sjachroedin Z.P. nominated by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan), Alzier Dianis Thabranie nominated by the Golkar Party and United Development Party (PPP), Zulkifli Anwar by the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the National Mandate Party (PAN) and former governor Oemarsono by a coalition of small parties.

Political analyst Jauhari Zailani of Lampung University said aside from meeting the demanding political quota for the gubernatorial election, independent candidates also had to contend with fierce competition with rivals nominated by political parties.

But independents who obtain support from 25 percent of the population would have a greater chance of winning, he said.

Independent candidates who had been required to collect identity cards could use them as a “hidden campaign” to maintain supporters’ loyalty on ballot day, he said.

Source: The Jakarta Post ,  Friday, 05/09/2008

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