Bracing for first female sultan

The Jakarta Post 8 May 2015

Yogyakarta Sultan Hamengkubuwono (HB) X appointed his eldest daughter, GKR Pembayun, crown princess with the new royal title of GKR Mangkubumi through a royal proclamation on May 5. This long-expected decision has stirred up a controversy in the province’s patriarchal Javanese society.

Unlike the neighboring Pakualaman principality, the sultanate of Yogyakarta has struggled to choose a successor to the current sultan, who is the first monogamous monarch of the line but does not have a son. His wife GKR Hemas has given him five daughters.

According to royal rules and precedents (paugeran), which are based on Islamic beliefs, the sultan must follow the right of primogeniture. When Sultan HB V passed away without any male heirs, his successor was his younger brother.

Therefore, according to jurisprudence, the throne should go to one of HB X’s 11 brothers from his father’s four wives.

Based on bloodline and position in the sultanate bureaucracy, KGPH Hadiwinoto is the most suitable candidate, not only because he has the highest royal title but also because he is the only sibling of the current sultan.

Long before he ascended to the throne, Sultan HB X had initiated reform inside the sultanate after his daughters reached maturity. Before HB X’s reign, the bureaucracy was men’s business, with only one women’s affairs office (kaputren).

During his tenure, HB X carefully placed his daughters as deputies of their uncles. When the uncles passed away, the sultan’s daughters took over the posts.

One of the most important jobs is KH Panitrapura, or sultanate state secretary, which is now held by the sultan’s second daughter GKR Condrokirono, who replaced GBPH Joyokusumo, the sultan’s youngest brother who died in 2013. HB X also created a new department to accommodate his daughters’ expertise, such as the 2012 establishment of the Tepas Tandha Yekti, which is responsible for IT and documentation. It is very clear that the sultan has prepared his daughters to lead the sultanate for a long time.

The order changed the basic foundations of the Yogyakarta sultanate.

GKR Mangkubumi has been particularly groomed by her mother Hemas, a member of the Regional Representatives Council. Hemas’ excellent political and social skills have been important in Pembayun’s promotion.

The new heir’s first test in politics came last year when Pembayun’s husband, Wironegoro, contested the national legislative elections. Even though he lost miserably, the couple learned a lot for future entry into national politics.

However, the sultan’s desire to promote GKR Mangkubumi as his successor faces abundant cultural, political and legal obstacles. Culturally, all sultans carry male symbols. The Yogyakarta sultan bears the title of Kalifatullah, or senior spiritual leader, which is associated with men.

In the mosque, the sultan has a special place between the imam and male followers.

He also holds the sacred Continue reading “Bracing for first female sultan”

Lessons from Aburizal’s failed presidential bid

2368040_20130513102401The Jakarta Post, Opinion, 12 June 2014     Download PDF

Many did not expect that Golkar Party presidential hopeful Aburizal Bakrie, whose party came second in the legislative election, would fail in his efforts to secure a presidential ticket so he could compete with Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Prabowo Subianto in the July presidential election.

The failure of Aburizal not only underlines the importance of a high approval rating, which eludes him, but also reveals the chronic problems of Indonesia’s political party system, namely party financing and cartelization.

There are two characteristics of post-Soeharto political parties in Indonesia (Mietzner, 2013).

The first is established grassroots parties with strong historical and ideological bases, such as the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Golkar, the United Development Party (PPP), the National Awakening Party (PKB), the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).

The roots of the PDI-P can be traced back to the Indonesian National Party (PNI), founded by Sukarno in 1927. 

 Continue reading “Lessons from Aburizal’s failed presidential bid”

Aristocratic Elections in Yogyakarta

Published in The Jakarta Post (19/4/2014) Donwload PDF

If I had to select a single candidate out of 6,607 House of Representatives candidates and 945 Regional Representatives Council (DPD) candidates who had a 99.9 percent probability of being reelected, I would certainly choose Queen Hemas, a DPD candidate from Yogyakarta.

The queen of YogyakarRoy_S@kotabaruta has, undoubtedly, dominated DPD elections since their inception in 2004. She then secured more than 800,000 votes, more than all three legislators’ votes combined. In 2009, she won by a landslide with more than 80 percent of the valid 940,000 votes. In 2014, she has set a target of winning the support of no less than 1 million out of the 1.7 million in the voters’ list.

What explains this phenomenon? Does aristocratic status matter to voters? How well did aristocratic candidates do in the 2014 election? The recent election in Yogyakarta may shed some light on the aristocratic performance in politics.

In many parts of Indonesia, the aristocracy has a special place in people’s hearts. Many local aristocrats have successfully transformed people’s cultural support into political support since the fall of Soeharto. In Gianyar regency, Bali, for instance, the election has always pitted two royal houses, Puri Gianyar and Puri Ubud. In Ternate, North Maluku, both the sultan and his queen, Nita Susanti, received significant votes for the House and DPD seats.

wiro@mantrijeronThis tendency has always been strongest in Yogyakarta, which received special status in 2012. Unlike any other provinces, the Yogyakarta governor and vice governor are privileged positions for two royal houses, the sultanate of Yogyakarta and the Pakualaman principality.

In the 2014 election, high-ranking aristocrats competed for national and local legislative seats representing different parties in Yogyakarta. The sultanate of Yogyakarta planned to have representatives in three different legislative levels. Queen Hemas is running for the DPD for the third time, her son-in-law Prince Wironegoro is running for the House representing the Gerindra Party and another son-in-law, Prince Purbaningrat, of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) is running for the Yogyakarta Legislative Council (DPRD).

Pakualaman runners are Roy Suryo Notodiprojo, the Democratic Party’s candidate for the House and his wife Ismarindayani Priyanti for the DPD. In addition, middle- and low-level aristocrats are competing for seats in the provincial and five district legislatures in Yogyakarta.

However, the results show that depending solely on aristocratic status might not bear fruit. Prince Wironegoro lost in the polling station where he cast his vote against another Gerindra candidate, Andika Pandu Puragabaya, the son of former Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. (ret) Djoko Santoso. Andika is likely to be one out of eight House representatives from Yogyakarta.

Continue reading “Aristocratic Elections in Yogyakarta”