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Indonesia's democratic party seen forming own coalition

Publication Date : 16-04-2014


Despite a slump in performance in the April 9 legislative election, the ruling Democratic Party is confident about its chances in the July 9 presidential election and expects to nominate its own presidential ticket.

The party’s decision could deal a blow to the Gerindra Party’s plan to nominate its chief patron Prabowo Subianto as its presidential candidate, as it could lure medium-sized parties away from joining a Gerindra-led coalition.

“It’s still possible for us to establish and lead our own coalition with the purpose of nominating our presidential candidate, but also the option to join a coalition of other parties and have our politician as a vice presidential candidate is still on the table,” Democratic Party deputy secretary-general Andi Nurpati said on Tuesday.

Andi added that party chairman President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono would have the authority to decide on the two options.

Analysts earlier suggested that the Democratic Party’s chances of nominating its own presidential candidate were very small because the party would face an uphill struggle to create a large enough coalition to meet the 25 per cent popular vote requirement.

However, as political parties intensify efforts to build coalitions for the July 9 presidential race, medium-sized parties are mulling the option of reviving the so-called “central axis,” a grouping of parties, mostly Islamic-based, which successfully brought Muslim cleric Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid to the country’s presidency in 1999.

“This union of medium-sized parties could be led by the Democratic Party,” said IndoBarometer political analyst M. Qodari.

Qodari, however, warned the coalition’s presidential candidate would struggle to compete with the two strongest contenders; the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle’s (PDI-P) Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Prabowo.

Among medium-sized parties that could form the central axis are the National Mandate Party (PAN), which garnered 7.5 per cent of the vote and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), which secured 7 per cent of the vote, based on quick-count results.

Together, these three parties would command more than 25 per cent of the popular vote.

The Democratic Party said a possible central axis could bring new life to the party’s presidential convention.

While declining to disclose possible candidates to be nominated as presidential candidates representing the coalition, Andi said all 11 participants in the presidential convention stood a good chance of being nominated.

Public opinion polls showed that State-Owned Enterprises Minister Dahlan Iskan was the most electable candidate in the convention. First Lady Ani Yudhoyono’s brother, Pramono Edhie Wibowo, however, has also been touted as a strong contender.

The Democrats’ plan, if it materializes, could spell trouble for Prabowo, who has kept a low profile after the April 9 legislative election.

So far, only the Islamic-based United Development Party (PPP), which garnered 6.5 per cent of the vote in the quick counts, indicated it could join a Gerindra-led alliance.

Based on the quick-count results, Gerindra garnered 12 per cent of the popular vote.


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