After four hours of heavy debate, the Golkar Party has named its executive board member Airlangga Hartarto, currently an Industry Minister in President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s Cabinet, as the party’s new chairman.
Airlangga will replace Setya Novanto, who is currently a defendant in a high-profile corruption case. Setya’s defendant status has made him temporarily inactivate, opening up a space for the party’s top post. “Starting tonight [Wednesday evening], Airlangga will be the Golkar chairman. With the plenary meeting’s decision [to appoint him], the chairman position is not empty,” the party’s executive chairman Nurdin Halid told reporters.
The country’s second largest party is scheduled to hold an extraordinary meeting (munaslub) to officially inaugurate Airlangga as chairman. Previously, several top party members declared their intentions to run in the chairmanship contest, including senior lawmaker and Setya loyalist Aziz Syamsuddin, secretary-general Idrus Marham and Siti Hedijati “Titiek” Soeharto, the daughter of former president Soeharto.
Nurdin reminded all cadres who opposed the plenary decision that they bring up their disagreements with the congress organizing committee to be discussed at a congress later. Nurdin also said the decision did not violate the party’s internal regulations, which stipulate that the party can appoint a chairman through a plenary meeting and announce it at a congress.