Party of the Functional Groups
Partai Golongan Karya
Chairman Setya Novanto[1][2]
General Secretary Idrus Marham
Founded October 20, 1964 (1964-10-20)
Headquarters Jakarta
Ideology Pancasila
Ballot number 5
Seats in DPR
91 / 560

The Party of the Functional Groups (Indonesian: Partai Golongan Karya) is a political party in Indonesia. Originally known as Sekber Golkar (Sekretariat Bersama Golongan Karya, or Joint Secretariat of Functional Groups).

Golkar was the ruling party from 1973 to 1999, under Suharto's New Order regime (1966-98) and the brief presidency of B. J. Habibie (1998-99). It had been a part of the ruling coalition of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's ruling coalition since 2004. In 2014 Yudhoyono was succeeded by President Joko Widodo.


In 1959, President Sukarno introduced his concept of Guided Democracy, in which so-called functional groups would play a role in government in place of political parties. The Indonesian National Armed Forces supported its creation because it believed these groups would balance the growing strength of the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI). In 1960, Sukarno awarded sectoral groups such as teachers, the Armed Forces and the Indonesian National Police, workers and artists seats in the Mutual Cooperation - People's Representative Council. As some of these functional groups were linked to political parties, this gave political influence to the National Armed Forces. The TNI then established an anti-PKI trade union, the Central Organization of Indonesian Workers, or Soksi (Sentral Organisasi Karyawan Swadiri Indonesia), and used this as the core of an Armed Forces-led Joint Secretariat of Functional Groups, or Sekber Golkar, which was officially established on October 20, 1964.[3] By 1968 there were almost 250 organizations under the Sekber umbrella. On November 22, 1969 they were organized into seven main organizations, or Kino (Kelompok Induk Organisasi), namely Soksi, Hosgoro (Union of Mutual Cooperation Multifunction Organizations), MKGR (Mutual Assistance Families Association), Gerakan Karya Rakyat (People's Working Movement), Ormas Hankam (Defense and Security Mass Organizations), Professi (professional organizations), and Gerakan Pembangunan (Development Movement).[4][5] The Joint Secretariat was one of those organizations that condemned the 30 September Movement in 1965.


Suharto and Golkar

In March 1968, General Suharto was officially elected by the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) as Indonesia's second president. Because of his military background, Suharto was not affiliated to any political parties. Suharto had never expressed much interest in party politics. However, if he were to be elected for a second term as president, he needed to align himself with a political party. Originally, Suharto had shown interest in aligning with the Indonesian National Party (PNI) — the party of his predecessor, Sukarno.[6] But in seeking to distance himself from the old regime, Suharto settled on Golkar.

Suharto then ordered his closest associate, Ali Murtopo, to transform Golkar and turn it into an electoral machine. Under Murtopo, and with Suharto's supervision, Golkar was turned from a federation of NGOs into a political party. Under Suharto, Golkar continued to portray itself as a non-ideological entity, without favoritism or political agendas. It promised to focus on "economic development" and "stability" rather than a specific ideological goal.[7] Golkar also began identifying itself with the government, encouraging civil servants to vote for it as a sign of loyalty to the government.

Murtopo claimed that workers were part of a Functional Group, which by rights ought to be subsumed under Golkar: "thus all unions were united into a single body answerable to the state. The population was no longer there to be mobilised by political parties, rather, the people were the 'floating mass', or the 'ignorant mass', who needed firm guidance so they would not be lured into politics.[8] In order to "Golkar-ize" the nation, Murtopo sometimes used the military and gangs of young thugs to eliminate political competition.[8]

Golkar declared on February 4, 1970, that it would participate in the 1971 legislative elections. Suharto's alignment with Golkar paid dividends when Golkar won 62% of the votes and an overwhelming majority in the People's Representative Council (DPR). The members of DPR also doubled as members as MPR and thus Suharto was easily re-elected to a second term as President in March 1973.

The 1971 legislative election was a success for Golkar and Suharto. Strengthened by his re-election, Suharto quickly began tightening his grip on Golkar. Control was increased in October 1973 with the implementation of a less democratic and more centralized system headed by a Chairman. In October 1978, after his re-election to a 3rd term, Suharto further consolidated his control of Golkar by being elected Chairman of the Executive Board (Ketua Dewan Pembina), a position whose authority supersedes even the party chairman. From this position, Suharto had the supreme power in Golkar while leaving the day-to-day running of Golkar to the chairman.

Aside from being dominated by Suharto, Golkar was also an organization dominated by the Armed Forces. Out of the four people that served as Golkar Chairman during the New Order, three had a military background as officers. It was only in the last years of Suharto's rule that Harmoko, a civilian, was elected as Golkar chairman.

Electoral dominance in the New Order

Map of the largest vote share per province in Indonesia's elections from 1971–2004 showing the dominance of Golkar (in yellow).

Golkar continued to dominate Indonesian politics well beyond the 1971 legislative elections. In subsequent New Order legislative elections, Golkar won 62% (1977), 64% (1982), 73% (1987), 68% (1992), and 74% (1997). Golkar's dominance was so absolute that for most of the Suharto era, Indonesia was effectively a one-party state. Suharto was able to pass his bills without any meaningful opposition, and was able to form a Cabinet which consisted only of Golkar appointees.

After 1973, Suharto banned all political parties but for the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) and the United Development Party (PPP). These two parties were nominally permitted to contest the reign of Golkar. In practice, however, Golkar permitted only a semblance of competition. The state controlled the only television station in Indonesia (until 1989, with advent of RCTI), and elections were "exercises in controlled aggression.".[9] Elections were ritualized performances of "choice," in which local authorities were to obey directives about Golkar's electoral results in their area.[9] A system of rewards, punishments, and violence meted out by thugs helped to guarantee cooperation across the archipelago, and the perpetual reelection of Golkar.[9]

After the 1977 and 1997 legislative elections, there were claims of electoral fraud launched by the party, who together with Golkar were the only legal political parties after 1973. There were also claims of Golkar members intimidating the electorate to vote for Golkar.

Organization and factions

During the New Order Golkar was divided into three factions:

These three factions worked closely together to gain consensus and in the case of nominating a presidential candidate it was the heads of these three factions who went to inform the candidate (which until 1998 was Suharto) that he had just been nominated as Golkar's Presidential candidate. The three factions did not always work together however. In 1988, the ABRI faction was unable to nominate Sudharmono as vice president. The factions disappeared along with the fall of the New Order.

After Suharto: Reformasi and beyond

Main article: Post-Suharto era

With Suharto's fall from power in May 1998, Golkar quickly sought to adapt and reform itself. In July 1998, a Special National Congress was held to elect the next chairman of Golkar. The congress was dogged by protests by both pro-Suharto and anti-Suharto groups. Suharto himself did not come to the congress. In the contest that followed, Akbar Tanjung emerged as the new chairman of Golkar after beating Army General Edi Sudrajat. It was the first time that a Golkar chairman was elected democratically rather than appointed by the chairman of the executive board. Under Akbar, the Executive Board was abolished and replaced by an Advisory Board which had considerably less authority.

In 1999, Golkar lost its first democratic legislative election to Megawati Sukarnoputri's PDI-P. Golkar won 20% of the votes and was the runner-up in the legislative elections. Despite losing these elections Golkar was still able to secure the Tanjung's election as Head of DPR. October 1999 would see the MPR assemble for its General Session during which a President and a Vice President would be elected. It was widely expected that Golkar would support Jusuf Habibie in his bid for a second term as president. Before Habibie could be nominated, however, he was required to deliver an accountability speech: a report delivered by the President to the MPR at the end of his term. The MPR would not ratify the accountability speech and it was revealed that some Golkar members had voted against ratifying the speech.

Golkar would get its revenge on PDI-P in the presidential elections. Although PDI-P had won the legislative elections, Golkar joined forces with the Central Axis, a political coalition put together by MPR Chairman Amien Rais, to nominate and successfully secure the election of Abdurrahman Wahid as president. Golkar, however, was unable to stop the election of Megawati as the vice president.

Golkar was rewarded for its support of Wahid by having its members appointed to ministerial positions in Wahid's Cabinet. Much like those who had supported Wahid, Golkar would grow disillusioned with Wahid. In April 2000, Jusuf Kalla, a Golkar member who held position as Minister of Industries and Trade was sacked from his position. When Golkar inquired as to why this was done, Wahid alleged it was because of corruption. In July 2001, Golkar, along with its Central Axis allies, held an MPR Special Session to replace President Wahid with Megawati.

By 2004, the reformist sentiments that had led PDI-P to victory in the 1999 legislative elections had died down. Many Indonesians were disappointed with what Reformasi had achieved thus far and were also disillusioned with Megawati's presidency. Such discontent enabled Golkar to emerged victorious in the 2004 legislative elections with 21% of the votes.

Unlike the other political parties who had one person as their presidential candidate from the start, Golkar had five. In April 2004, Golkar held a national convention to decide who would become Golkar's candidate for president. These five were Akbar Tanjung, General Wiranto, Lieutenant-General Prabowo, Aburizal Bakrie, and Surya Paloh. Akbar won the first round of elections but Wiranto emerged as the winner in the second round. Wiranto chose Solahuddin Wahid as his running mate.

The Presidential Elections were held on July 5, 2004. The first round of elections was won by Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Yusuf Kalla who faced Megawati and Hasyim in the September 2004 run-off. Wiranto/Wahid came second and there were allegations of disunity within the party with Akbar not fully supporting Wiranto after losing the nomination.

In August 2004 Golkar formed, with PDI-P, PPP, Reform Star Party (PBR) and Prosperous Peace Party (PDS), a national coalition to back Megawati. Further infighting would hamper Golkar in its bid to back Megawati. Fahmi Idris led a group of Golkar members in defecting and threw their support behind Yudhoyono and Kalla. At the Presidential Run-Off in September 2004, Yudhoyono emerged victorious over Megawati to become Indonesia's 6th president. Yusuf Kalla, who had gone his own way back in April 2004, became vice president.

2004 National Congress

Although he had overwhelmingly won the presidency, Yudhoyono was still weak in the DPR. His own Democratic Party had only won 7% in the legislative elections and even combined with other parties who had aligned themselves with the new government, they still had to contend with the legislative muscle of Golkar and PDI-P who now intended to play the role of opposition.

With a National Congress to be held in December 2004, Yudhoyono and Kalla had originally backed Head of DPR Agung Laksono to become Golkar chairman. When Agung was perceived to be too weak to run against Akbar, Yudhoyono and Kalla threw their weight behind Surya Paloh. Finally, when Paloh was perceived to be too weak to run against Akbar, Yudhoyono gave the green light for Kalla to run for the Golkar Chairmanship.

This was a widely controversial move. Up to that point, Yudhoyono had not let members of his administration hold a concurrent position in political parties to prevent the possible abuse of power. There were also complaints by Wiranto who claimed that some months earlier, Yudhoyono had promised to support him if he ran for the Golkar chairmanship.

On December 19, 2004, Kalla became the new Golkar chairman with over 50% of the votes. Akbar, who had expected to win a second term as Golkar chairman, was defeated with 30% of the votes. Agung and Surya, who Yudhoyono and Kalla had backed earlier, became the party vice chairman and the chairman of the advisory board, respectively.

Kalla's new appointment as chairman of Golkar significantly strengthened Yudhoyono's government in Parliament and left the PDI-P as the only major opposition party in the DPR.

2009 National Congress

At the 2009 Congress, held in Pekanbaru, Aburizal Bakrie was elected chairman, winning 269 out of 583 votes, and beating Surya Paloh into second place. Surya Paloh then went on to establish the National Democratic organization, which in turn established the National Democratic Party.[10][11]

Party platform: Vision 2045

Under chairman Aburizal Bakrie, the party has produced a blueprint known as "Vision Indonesia 2045: A Prosperous Nation" with the aim of making Indonesia a developed nation by the centenary of the country's independence in 2045. The plan comprises three stages each lasting a decade. The key strategies in the vision comprise developing Indonesia from the villages, strengthening the role of the state, quality economic growth, equalizing incomes, ensuring even development in all areas, quality education and healthcare, strengthening communities, sustained economic development, upholding the law and human rights, industrial development based on technology and revitalization of agriculture and trade.

The first decade would lay the foundations for a developed nation, the second would accelerate development and the final decade would see Indonesia become a developed nation. Each stage would have targets for indicators such as economic growth, GDP, and levels of unemployment and poverty.[12]

Indicator 2015-2025 2025-2035 2035-2045
Economic growth8-9%10-11% 6-7%
Per capita incomeUSD 10,000-12,000 USD 21,000-23,000USD 41,000-43,000
Poverty ratio5-8%2-3%1-2%
Life expectancy7578 82
Gini ratio0.350.31 0.28
Human Development Index0.800.860.91

List of Golkar Chairmen

Election results

Legislative election results

Election Total seats won Total votes Share of votes Outcome of election Election leader
236 / 360
34,348,673 62.80% new party Ali Murtopo
232 / 360
39,750,096 62.11% Decrease4 seats Amir Murtono
242 / 360
48,334,724 64.34% Increase10 seats Amir Murtono
299 / 400
62,783,680 73.11% Increase57 seats Sudharmono
282 / 400
66,599,331 68.10% Decrease17 seats Wahono
325 / 400
84,187,907 74.51% Increase43 seats Harmoko
120 / 500
23,741,749 22.46% Decrease205 seats Akbar Tandjung
128 / 550
24,480,757 21.58% Increase8 seats Akbar Tandjung
106 / 560
15,037,757 14.45% Decrease22 seats, Governing coalition (Demokrat-Golkar-PKS-PAN-PPP-PKB) Jusuf Kalla
91 / 560
18,432,312 14.75% Decrease15 seats, Opposition (until 2016) (Red & White Coalition)
Governing Coalition (since 2016)[13]
Aburizal Bakrie

Presidential election results

Election Candidate Running mate 1st round
(Total votes)
Share of votes Outcome 2nd round
(Total votes)
Share of votes Outcome
2004 Wiranto Salahuddin Wahid 26,286,788 22.15% Eliminated Red X Runoff
2009 Yusuf Kalla Wiranto 15,081,814 12.41% Lost Red X



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