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Indonesian VP elected new party leader

BALI, Indonesia, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla was elected chairman of his nation's largest political party Sunday, the Golkar Party.

Kalla defeated incumbent Akbar Tanjung 323-156 in voting by party members at a hotel on the resort island of Bali, said Antara, Indonesia's state-run news agency.

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Golkar, which was used by ousted Indonesian president Suharto to run the country for 32 years, has the most seats in parliament.

Joined with the country's second largest party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle -- led by former president Megawati Sukarnoputri -- Golkar had been functioning as an opposition party to newly elected President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Political experts say Kalla's victory might help Yudhoyono in passing legislation to deal with the problems facing the country, arguing Kalla will likely bring Golkar into the government.

Kalla's victory places him in a strong position to run for the presidency in 2009.

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