June 13, 2023
JAKARTA – Trying to defuse concerns that the Coalition for Change and Unity (KPP) was on a mission to undo the long-term goals of the Joko “Jokowi” Widodo administration, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) stated on Sunday that KPP presidential nominee Anies Baswedan would not make wholesale changes to the President’s policies if he were elected president.
“There’s nothing to fear about change, as there are plenty of people who seem to be allergic to the idea,” senior PKS politician Suswono told a party event on Sunday in Bogor, West Java.
“It’s as if Anies is going to undo everything the President has accomplished and prepared [for the country’s future]. That’s not going to happen.”
While the former Jakarta governor has recently ramped up his criticism of the government, Anies also took a more conciliatory tone at the same event, trying to steer the conversation away from the next administration picking up the mantle of its predecessor.
“Change is about neither stopping nor continuing [Jokowi’s policies], it’s about including a measure of social justice in the policies we make,” Anies told the audience of PKS members.
“There’s going to be [both] continuity and change. It’s not only going to be about one or the other, but also about social justice.”
While Anies again highlighted that the government lacked considering social justice in its decision-making process, he refrained from admonishing its policies.
In his previous criticisms, Anies pointed out that the administration’s focus on developing toll roads and offering incentives for purchasing electric vehicles catered more to well-heeled Indonesians.
Sunday’s event showed a marked difference in tone for the PKS, which has been among the most vocal critics of President Jokowi in the House of Representatives since 2015.
It appears to be softening its stance as Anies continues to fall behind presidential candidate Ganjar Pranowo of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto in recent electability surveys.
Analysts have suggested that because Jokowi’s approval rating remains so high, the KPP will not be able to bank on the votes of citizens disappointed with the President to win next year’s election.
In April, the PKS even offered the position of Anies’ running mate to Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD, a senior Cabinet member.
The PKS is not the only member of the electoral alliance to soften its stance toward the government: the Democratic Party, another fellow KPP member, has opened its doors to collaborating with the ruling PDI-P, with Democrat chairman Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono’s name appearing on the shortlist of Ganjar’s running mate last week. It has also recently welcomed conciliatory gestures from the PDI-P, despite their history of bad blood.
The ruling party unexpectedly made overtures for a potential reconciliation with the opposition party when a long-planned meeting between PDI-P heir apparent Puan Maharani and Democrat chair Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono was finally set to go ahead, according to PDI-P secretary-general Hasto Kristiyanto.
Analysts said the PDI-P’s peace offering might be a test of loyalty for the Democrats, as the KPP needed its support to meet the presidential nomination threshold and formally register Anies as the alliance’s presidential candidate in October.