Why a twosome for the presidential elections?

Apart from Swine Flu the Indonesian papers are full of stories about the possible permutations of coalitions and presidential running mates. Coalitions are understandale, especially if they need to combine to get the required percentage of votes to be able to nominate the president.

What does not make sense, however, is all this talk about a running mate. Why is there a need for one when the candidate is running for president? The elections are about voting one man to be president, not a pair to run the country. It makes sense for whomever is elected to then be allowed to select whomever he or she chooses to be the vice president. It must be someone he trusts and who shares his vision (if it exists).

In this way the President would not have to worry about the vice-president’s loyalties or agenda, like what’s happening now with SBY and Yusuf Kalla. The president would also not have to worry about his vice president sabotaging or bad-mouthing him in the few months just before the the presidential elections, like what is happening now between SBY and Yusuf Kalla.

What Unspun doesn’t understand is how did it get this way where a people get to vote a pair rather than an individual to be the one running the country. Is it because of some arcane election law or process, or what?

5 thoughts on “Why a twosome for the presidential elections?

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  1. The answer to that is simple. I initially planned to vote for SBY, i must admit that during his admin, Indonesia grows, in virtually all sectors, including world image (you may not agree with this, dude). But, i was still very much aware, that actually, Kalla was behind all those achievement. Now, since almost confirmed that SBY will be mating with other, i changed my vote to Kalla.
    A president candidate is 60%, while the 40% goes to the runningmate.


  2. Hi Unspun, a twosome for presidential election is needed for two reasons. First, to increase one’s electability. A single presidential candidate will only have what they call in politics a “single vote gather”. That’s his/her electability alone. While the vice president will act as “cluster vote gather”. Simply put, the VP candidate helps the P candidate to get more votes. Therefore a VP candidate with high political electability is important. This is a common understanding and practice that have been around since probably the ’50s.

    Second, VP candidate can function as a person perceived to be able to compensate what the P candidate is lacking. Famous example, Obama chose Biden because Obama knows he is lacking in international relation. While Biden has abundance of experience there. McCain chose Palin because he knows he lacks the “face” to attract young swing voters. But I’m sure you’ll know more about shaping people’s perception.


  3. @Patria: Thanks for the informative comment. So this practice/belief was around since Suharto days? Sounds funny though as Suharto did not need a second man to ring in the votes.

    In the case of Obama and McCain they chose their running mates only after they had won their parties nominations. They, in a manner of speaking, had gone through their trial by fire and emerged victorious. They could then choose whomever wouod complement them.

    This does not seem to be the case here where the No#2 is virtually foisted on them through a perceived need for a coalition. The result is that we have a situation in the past few years in which the vice president thinks the president owes him his position. As we all know, two tigers cannot co-exist on one hill.


    1. Your welcome Unspun. Sorry if I didn’t mention in detail. Your right that during the New Order, Soeharto had the freedom to choose his VP. But I was talking not limited to Indonesia but more to political behavior in the world. Of course only in those countries that have democratic election and using the presidential system. Am sure Cuba won’t be using this.

      For Obama & McCain, yes they went through their parties nomination but it was votes from delegates not popular votes or electoral votes. No matter how hard the party nomination were, they still had to capture those undecided voters who were not involved in party nomination.

      In a sense every P candidate does owe the VP candidate his/her position. But as long as there is clear agreement between the two on who is doing what, there shouldn’t be too much issue.

      The last few years is a bit different more because the no 2 is the head of the party with the most seat in legislative. So it’s natural if people look at it as two forces colliding.

      But in democracy I think it’s natural for one hill to have many tigers. It’s check & balance. As long as all are thinking about and fighting for the people’s prosperity.


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