Alfian , THE JAKARTA POST , JAKARTA | Tue, 03/24/2009 12:55 PM | National
As the legislative election is around the corner, the Islamic-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) is dealing with two biggest challenges; maintaining its clean image and winning the heartsof majority Indonesian secular voters.
With its anti-corruption movement, PKS has boosted its votes from only 2 percent in the 1999 election, when its name was Justice Party, to 7.3 percent in the 2004 election. But, its image as a clean and caring party has been fading slowly since it tied the knot with a coalition backing Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Jusuf Kalla in the 2004 presidential election.
"Many heroic stories of the party before 2004 have apparently disappeared because of its confusing positions as part of the government's supporting party and an opposing one," the party said in a book revealing its political platform.
In the 643-page book titled "Struggling for a Civil Society", launched April last year, PKS calls upon all its cadres to re-evaluate the party's concept on cleanliness and care for a bigger public space context.
While trying to regain its good image, the party is working hard to win trust from secular voters. In this regard, the party is facing challenge on how to comfort secular voters with the party's strong Islamic image, vision and mission which will be fighting for Islamic state some time in the long future.
"We are seeking not to implement Jakarta charter but fighting for Madinah charter accommodating pluralism to allow all social elements with different ethnics and religions to live peacefully," said PKS's president Tifatul Sembiring.
Ahead of the election, PKS' campaigning as an open party is becoming stronger. In several ads campaigns, PKS uses a woman model with modern style without headcurf, instead of Islamic one, to make the party closer and familiar with the common people. The party also put posters in strategic locations with tag lines "Can Red, Yellow, Green be PKS? For Indonesia of course it can."
PKS has been trying to take over the position of National Mandate Party, National Awakening Party and Golkar Party dominating the campus world in the past. It has its stronghold in Jakarta and outskirts, West Java, Banten and urban areas in Java, Sulawesi and Sumatra.
Despite all these efforts, political observer Yudi Latif from Paramadina University said PKS was still facing difficulties to get a full acceptance even by educated secular voters.
"Since PKS's legislative candidates must come from the party's internal cadres, the people still perceive PKS as an exclusive party," Yudi said.