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Atut’s family political dynasty stays strong

Primastuti Handayan | TJP | Opinion

The political dynasty of graft suspect Banten Governor Ratu Atut Chosiyah remains strong after her sister, Ratu Tatu Chasanah, was elected the new boss of the Golkar Party’s Banten chapter in an extraordinary meeting on Friday, replacing Atut’s late husband, Hikmat Tomet.

Tatu’s election ended speculation of divisions within the party. Golkar chairman Aburizal Bakrie reportedly supported Tatu’s candidacy, while other party leaders like deputy chairman Fadel Muhammad and former chairman Akbar Tandjung said they preferred to see a figure outside Atut’s family installed in Banten.

Golkar is struggling to keep its grip on the province of 10 million people, one of the party’s strongholds, ahead of next year’s election. Despite the party’s tarnished image after the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) named Atut a suspect last week, the party believes Atut’s dynasty remains the best option as the legislative election is only four months away.

Atut is accused of playing a central role in bribing former Constitutional Court chief justice Akil Mochtar to rule in favor of Lebak Deputy Regent Amir Hamzah, Golkar’s candidate in the regional election, earlier this year.

Friday’s race was a neck-and-neck affair between Tatu, the incumbent Serang Deputy Regent, and Cilegon Mayor Tubagus Iman Ariyadi. Tatu won by a slight margin.

Atut’s family denied allegations that the victory was needed to maintain the family’s stranglehold over the province.

“The decision was made after thorough consultations with all the party’s regional board members. Our top priority now is to collectively support Golkar to win the upcoming general elections,” said Golkar’s Serang branch chairwoman Ratu Lilis Karyawati, another sister of Atut.

Members of Atut’s family control five of Banten’s eight regencies and municipalities, including Tatu; her sister-in-law Airin Rachmi Diany, the South Tangerang mayor; her stepbrother Tubagus Haerul Jaman, who serves as Serang mayor; and her stepmother Heryani, the Pandeglang Deputy Regent. All of them are Golkar politicians.

Tatu pledged to help Golkar win the most votes in Banten and called on party supporters for their allegiance to realize the goal.

The last minute decision to hold the election raised suspicions about Golkar’s intervention to keep Atut’s family in control of the party in Banten.

But political observer Yunarto Wijaya said based on Golkar’s performance in the 2004 and 2009 elections, there was no strong correlation between Atut’s leadership and the party’s achievements in the province.

“In 2009, Golkar could only secure some 500,000 votes from Banten, far lower than the 900,000 it secured in 2004,” he said.

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