Which new President: Does it matter?

Which new President: Does it matter? - Jakarta Post, July 28, 2004
... In this matter, the experience of Thailand's prime minister, Thaksin, is instructive. Replacing prime ministers who closely followed IMF reform prescriptions, Thaksin has not only instituted a more nationalist economic policy but has directly confronted the power of regional political and business interests in the parliament.
He built a national political party to bypass regional power brokers and put in place a new social contract at the grass roots level that linked centralized, national power with the sources of votes through grants to villages, new health policies and other populist policies. Money politics was re-centralized...
But there are important differences with the Thai case. Most important, Thaksin's agenda is directly to establish the political ascendance of national business through the Thai Rat Thai party. It is backed by a powerful and wealthy set of interests.
By contrast, neither Golkar nor PDI in Indonesia constitute a cohesive set of interests. Nor do they represent the center against the regions. Rather, they represent long strands of political alliance that extend down into the regions and provinces and include complex business and political elites. Business today in Indonesia may fund politics but is entirely incapable of organizing a party in their interests to capture power...
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