Democrats throw support behind Prabowo

The Democratic Party's official announcement saying it was joining the pro-Prabowo alliance has negated any chances of the creation of an alternative electoral alliance, backing a fourth pair of candidates for the 2024 election.

Yerica Lai

Yerica Lai

The Jakarta Post


Democratic Party chairman Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono (center) arrives at the party headquarters in Menteng, Central Jakarta ahead of a press briefing on August 11, 2023. PHOTO: ANTARA/ THE JAKARTA POST

September 18, 2023

JAKARTA – The chances of the creation of an alternative electoral alliance backing a fourth pair of presidential and vice-presidential candidates for the 2024 election disappeared on Sunday after the Democratic Party officially announced that it was joining the pro-Prabowo Subianto alliance in a press briefing at Prabowo’s residence in Hambalang, West Java.

The NasDem Party’s decision to pair former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan with National Awakening Party (PKB) chairman Muhaimin Iskandar without consulting the other two members of the Coalition of Change for Unity (KPP), the Democratic Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), had left the initial formation of that alliance in disarray.

With NasDem and the PKB having enough legislative seats to field Anies in the presidential race in February, speculation was initially rife that the Democratic Party and the PKS would leave the KPP to form an alternative alliance with another pro-government party. The two parties, however, are now set to stick with existing electoral alliances.

The Democratic Party, which had expected its leader Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono to fill the KPP vice-presidential spot, has now officially joined the pro-Prabowo bloc led by the Gerindra Party, known as the Advanced Indonesia Coalition (KIM). The PKS, meanwhile, had earlier decided to stick with its support for Anies.

“Today’s event was to accept the official endorsement by the Democratic Party of Pak Prabowo as a presidential candidate in 2024,” said Viva Yoga Mauladi of the National Mandate Party (PAN), a KIM member, as quoted by CNN Indonesia.

The upcoming election will, therefore, be a three-horse race, though it is not impossible that the current configuration would change ahead of the presidential election registration by the end of November.

After the Democrats’ departure from the KPP, talk about a potential new axis came to the fore as vice-presidential aspirant Sandiaga Uno of the United Development Party (PPP) reportedly suggested the Democratic Party and the PKS join forces, potentially backing a Sandiaga and Agus ticket, a suggestion which Sandiaga has denied.

Despite joining a list of vice-presidential candidates potentially picked by Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri to run as former Central Java governor Ganjar Pranono’s running mate, Sandiaga, who currently serves as tourism and creative economy minister, is up against other top contenders, such as former West Java governor Ridwan Kamil and Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD.

Sandiaga’s maneuver was confirmed by the head of the Democratic Party’s central board Herman Khaeron, who claimed that “Sandiaga’s team had asked the Democratic Party’s team to form a coalition together”. This scenario, however, would only have been possible if the PKS decided to leave the KPP and lend its support for the Sandiaga-Agus pairing.

The PKS, however, made it clear last week that it would opt to stay in the KPP, closing the door on a potential Dems-PKS-PPP alliance backing the Sandiaga-Agus ticket. Given that the remaining two parties do not control the 20 percent of seats at the House of Representatives needed to nominate their own candidate pairing, this idea was left dead in the water.

Adi Prayitno, executive director of Parameter Politik Indonesia, said the prospect of Sandiaga-Agus running on a joint ticket in the upcoming race had been “unconvincing” from the get-go as they still fell behind current presidential frontrunners, Ganjar, Prabowo and Anies.

“We can surely now say that a fourth axis is unlikely to arise. The idea of backing Sandiaga-Anies had been unrealistic from the beginning and did not seem to gain traction among any political parties,” Adi said

The Democratic Party, meanwhile, had suggested that there was little chance the party would create a new alliance, opting instead to explore the possibility of teaming up with one of the two other electoral alliances.

The Democrats had been eyeing a reconciliation meeting between former president, and father of Agus, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) and the PDI-P’s Megawati following years of bad blood between the two that started in 2004. SBY, a member of Megawati’s cabinet during her presidency, quit to run for president and defeated Megawati in the country’s first direct presidential election.

Yudhoyono and Prabowo, who both previously served in the military, recently bumped into each other at the anniversary of the Veterans Association (Pepabri) and had no hesitation displaying their proximity despite their falling out back in the 2019 presidential election when Prabowo decided to pick Sandiaga over Agus as his running mate. (ahw)

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