TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Democrat Party's convention to seek a presidential candidate is halfway completed. The plan is to have 11 aspirants undergo electability surveys and travel on roadshows to 10 big cities during the months of January and February next year. But the plan seems to be hampered by a tight budget and a totally disinterested media. Last week, Tempo reporter Jobpie Sugiharto interviewed party committee chairman, Maftuh Basyuni, accompanied by party secretary Suaidi Marasabessy, at the Democrat Party headquarters in South Jakarta. Excerpts:
Will the Committee determine the Democrat Party's presidential candidate?
Results of the survey will be submitted to the Committee for the members to select our presidential candidate. From there the candidate's name goes to the party's High Council.
Will the winner of the convention definitely be picked as presidential candidate?
That's up to the High Council. Perhaps, based on the results of the legislative elections, the Democrat Party will only manage to propose a vice-presidential candidate, but that's the decision of the High Council. Our mandate is to look for a presidential candidate.
How does the convention work?
We introduce the candidates, then we conduct surveys, interviews, roadshows and surveys again. The last national survey on the candidates' electability will take place next April. The respondents will be the general public.
Why not use the American concept? Have elections in all provinces, the results collected at the center...
Ours is a convention a la Indonesia, so it's affordable. According to Pak Yudhoyono, this convention can pave the way for further implementation.
When will the interviews and the debates take place?
Suaidi: The interviews conducted by experts will take place on January 2014, which will be open to the media. On February, there will be a roadshow to 10 big cities representing Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan, Bali, Sulawesi and eastern Indonesia. The candidates will be divided into groups, but each of them will appear in all of the 10 cities.
Which cities will they go to?
Suaidi: Bandung, Surabaya, Semarang, Balikpapan, Medan, Palembang, Makassar, Ambon, Denpasar and Jayapura.
What was the basis for selecting those cities?
They are the biggest cities in Indonesia and there are flights going back and forth to those places. It's more economical this way. For example, there are flights between Bandung and Surabaya. On one particular day, five candidates will debate in Bandung and six in Surabaya. The next day, it will be different people, different cities.
So, the justification is the funding, not areas supporting the Democrats?
Yes, it will be mainly for efficiency. That, and big cities.
What is the budget allocated by the Committee?
Suaidi: No more than Rp50 billion. We will not be getting it all at once, only what we need.
How much has been spent?
Suaidi: Only 20 percent of it.
How much for the surveys?
Suaidi: Rp8.7 billion, including for a survey evaluation team.
And for the panelists and the roadshow?
We haven't decided but that's the biggest portion.
Will you collaborate with the media?
Not with any particular one. We were asked to pay Rp900 million for one episode, including the debate and blocking TV airtime. That's extortion. Maybe we'll work with local TV stations.
They claimed it would be free of charge, but it was not. Maybe it'll still be free. Before the TVRI incident, three TV stations were ready to broadcast all our activities. But it's not happening.
The convention concept is not too clear.
Suaidi: Starting January and until April it will liven up. Right now, candidates are free to do their own promotions.