Analysts say Golkar's support for Indonesian President Jokowi at stake over chairman Setya Novanto's case

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Golkar's support for President Joko Widodo is likely at stake as the Indonesian party is reportedly preparing a congress in response to mounting pressure from members calling for an election to replace chairman Setya Novanto, who has been named a graft suspect.

Golkar deputy secretary-general Ace Hasan Syadzily said on Sunday that the party's executive members would hold a meeting on Tuesday to respond to issues surrounding Setya's case, including whether or not to hold a congress to elect a new leader as demanded by some party members.

The executive director of Jakarta-based Voxpol Centre Research and Consulting, Pangi Syarwi Chaniago, said on Sunday (Nov 19) that political dynamics within Golkar would likely become more fluid if the party held a congress, meaning that any politician elected could be someone unwilling to join the government's coalition.

Previously part of the opposition coalition, Golkar - the second-largest party in Parliament behind Joko's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) - switched its support to Joko's ruling coalition in January last year, significantly shifting the balance of power in South-east Asia's largest nation.

Pangi said there were still factions within the party, although internal divisions that had erupted in 2015 had been resolved through the election of Novanto, who was then considered as a neutral candidate.

"We are unsure if Golkar will continue to support Jokowi," Pangi told The Jakarta Post, referring to the president by his nickname Jokowi.

This, he said, was because the party leadership could end up being replaced by other members who were not supportive of Joko.

"The party leadership can be won by any members of Aburizal's faction," he said, referring to businessman Aburizal Bakrie, who in 2015 led a faction against politician Agung Laksono, who had supported Joko.

Aburizal had at the time sided with the government's opposition, led by the Gerindra Party. "Any of the factions will surely propose their candidates (at the congress)," Pangi said.

Novanto has been detained by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) for questioning over a major scandal involving US$170 million (S$230 million) of stolen state funds.

He is one of the most senior politicians in Indonesia to be detained by the KPK.

KPK officials had raided his home on Wednesday night in an attempt to arrest him but he was nowhere to be found, sparking fears he had left the country.

He appeared in hospital for treatment a day later after the car he was in crashed in south Jakarta.

He was arrested again on Friday but the KPK said it had delayed enforcing his detention as he was still receiving treatment for his injuries.

He has denied any wrongdoing in the case.