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INDONESIA POLLS: Jokowi camp ready for reconciliation

Publication Date : 18-07-2014

 

As Indonesian presidential election’s vote tally inches closer to the finish line, with the Joko “Jokowi” Widodo-Jusuf Kalla ticket apparently in the lead, the camp is open to rival political parties coming on board.

Presidential hopeful Jokowi said he was ready to heal the bitter rivalry with Prabowo Subianto and his running mate, Hatta Rajasa, over the past few months.

“You may call it reconciliation. Yes, we must preserve the spirit of unity,” he said on Thursday at his team’s headquarters in Menteng, Jakarta.

The bitter competition between the two tickets during the presidential election has ended in a tight finish as indicated by many pollsters in their quick counts and watchful eyes are now on the on-going ballot count.

The polarised election has also resulted in divisiveness among political elites where Jokowi is viewed as the underdog, receiving support only from the NasDem Party,

the National Awakening Party (PKB) and Jokowi’s own party and the coalition’s leader, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), against the much larger coalition of political parties that Prabowo forged.

“For the sake of our nation, we are ready for reconciliation [between the two camps],” said Kalla. He added, however, that the form of reconciliation would be determined after the official final vote tally was announced on July 22.

Kalla said that it would be hard for ruling political parties like the Democratic Party and Golkar Party, which had backed Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s two terms, to take up a new role in opposition.

“Politics is very dynamic, parties’ support can always swing from one side to another depending on the situation,” he said.

PDI-P deputy secretary-general Hasto Kristiyanto said the party welcomed other parties wishing to join them in Jokowi’s future government, as long as they accepted Jokowi’s conditions.

“Jokowi is committed to non-transactional politics in the coalition. Thus, this condition that we require of others joining us is non-negotiable,” he said.

While the Democrats, the United Development Party (PPP) and the Crescent Star Party (PBB) politicians have yet to openly express interest in joining Jokowi’s camp,

many Golkar executives have explicitly disregarded chairman Aburizal Bakrie’s recent decision to sign a “permanent coalition” pact backing Prabowo.

They have been urging a change in party leadership immediately after the official vote tally announcement, which they believe will result in a Jokowi-Kalla victory, to replace Aburizal with a new chairman who will formally retract the party’s support for Prabowo.

A senior Golkar politician who is also one of the possible party chairmanship candidates, Industry Minister MS Hidayat, acknowledged the possibility. “In this case, the saying ‘there are no permanent friends, only permanent interests in politics’ is valid,” he said.

Anies Baswedan, the spokesman of the Jokowi-Kalla campaign team, confirmed that Golkar and the Democrats had opened talks with the camp, but no concrete deal had yet been made.

He also refused to comment when asked if the two parties had attempted to seek ministerial positions.

As for the Democrats, it was noticeable that at the signing of Prabowo’s coalition agreement on Monday, the party was the only one that did not send a national executive to attend the ceremony. This has prompted speculation that the party is reluctant to continue its membership of the coalition.

Hasto also confirmed that PPP politicians had also approached the Jokowi-Kalla camp.

Like Golkar, the PPP is also bracing itself for a possible leadership change that might be made on the basis of the fact that chairman Suryadharma Ali has been named a corruption suspect.

Deputy chairman Suharso Monoarfa also slammed the decision to sign the permanent coalition pact.

“The PPP’s formal deal with the Prabowo-Hatta camp was only to work together to win the race, not beyond,” he said, adding that he believed the deal would be off after the official vote tally was announced.

Agriculture Minister Suswono of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), another member of the Prabowo-Hatta coalition, meanwhile, said that the party was not interested in jumping ship. “The PKS normally will respect any deal it has made,” he said. “As long as the victory was won in a fair game, we will respect it.”

Political analyst from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), Syamsuddin Haris, said that the parties intending to switch to Jokowi-Kalla would face a hard time before being accepted.

“Both Golkar and the Democratic Party must work really hard to convince Jokowi. He is the key figure, not the party elites,” he said.

“However, the more parties who join the coalition, the less effective Jokowi’s government could be because it must cater to more interests,” he added.


 

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