Indonesia: Eyeing VP slot, Democrats lean toward Gerindra

  • As chances to form a third party coalition to compete in the 2019 presidential election get slimmer, the Democratic Party is moving closer to the opposition Gerindra Party.
  • Democrat chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled on 18 Jul 18 to meet with Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subianto at Yudhoyono’s house in Mega Kuningan, South Jakarta, to discuss plans to join Prabowo’s ticket to challenge incumbent President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.
  • Democratic Party secretary-general Hinca Pandjaitan said on 16 Jul 18 that there will be talking about the presidential election and there could be a surprise in store.
  • Elites of both parties said the aim of the meeting was to respond to Prabowo’s offer of giving the vice-presidential slot on his ticket to Agus Harimurti, Yudhoyono’s eldest son and a military man-turned-politician. He is a rising Democratic Party star after his first political battle in the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election.
  • The offer, a source said, was made earlier in Jul 18, when Democratic Party deputy chairman Syariefuddin Hasan visited Prabowo at his private residence in Kertanegara, South Jakarta.
  • The Democratic Party was once part of Prabowo’s camp, but when the 2014 presidential election ended with Jokowi’s victory, it positioned itself as neutral, claiming to balance the power between the ruling and opposition parties.
  • But in the past few months, the Democrats have been confident in initiating a third coalition to challenge both Prabowo and Jokowi, the two strongest contenders in the election so far.
  • The party has tried to lure mid-sized parties, including two of Gerindra’s old allies, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and National Mandate Party (PAN), as well as the pro-government National Awakening Party (PKB).
  • But the recent announcement from PKB chairman Muhaimin Iskandar confirming his party’s support for Jokowi seemed to have complicated the Democrat’s plans for a third coalition.
  • Shifting support to Prabowo could now be more beneficial for the Democrats, especially as Jokowi has reportedly refused to make Agus his running mate and, instead, offered him only a ministerial seat.
  • Hinca has declined to comment on whether the party was no longer considering a third-coalition scenario. He noted that the party has 3 options – to be with Jokowi, with Prabowo or with neither of them.
  • Gerindra, meanwhile, seemed more certain, saying that once Prabowo and Yudhoyono sealed the deal, old allies like the PKS and PAN would follow suit. According to Gerindra secretary-general Ahmad Muzani, the two chairmen would probably reach a decision on a presidential candidacy during their meeting.
  • Yudhoyono and other party chairmen have been scrambling to find partners to contest the 2019 election. However, they seem to be taking a wait-and-see stance before announcing their candidates or coalition.
  • Last week, Yudhoyono received Golkar Party chairman Airlangga Hartarto at his house to discuss the possibility of Golkar joining the Democrats — despite Golkar’s official position supporting Jokowi’s reelection bid. He also received PAN chairman Zulkifli Hasan and Vice President Jusuf Kalla who reportedly suggested the Democrats pair Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, a nonpartisan figure, with Agus.

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