Friday, October 31, 2008

Political Bombshell: A Sultan on the ballot

How exactly do you run against a demigod?

Now there's a question I bet political hacks like James Carville and Pat Buchanan have never had to answer. But if they were across the Pacific, they might have to. That's because the Sultan of Yogyakarta (aka Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X - try fitting that on a ballot) has announced that's he'll be running for Indonesian president, against the usual suspects like Megawati and Yudhoyono.

If crowds are any indication, he could stir up the race: 200,000 turned out to see him speak. Maybe not that surprising a turnout, since he's supposedly semi-divine. In terms of experience, he's not exactly Sarah Palin: He's governor of Yogyakarta, is extremely popular throughout Java, and in 1998 called for national unity while the country was undergoing a crisis that strained it at the seams. Plus his lineage is stellar: His dad served as VP under Suharto, and going further back, royal ancestors rebelled against the Dutch colonialists.

I have no idea how a demigod would deal with the gritty realities of everyday politics. Or if all Indonesians would have to crouch in his presence, like his palace staff does. But when it comes to shaking up the '09 race, you couldn't have a more interesting contestant.

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