April 10, 2023
JAKARTA – Pro-government political parties are making a move to build a grand alliance for the 2024 presidential election, which, if materialized, will turn the race into a three-way tie as has been widely predicted.
The new alliance will likely amalgamate the Great Indonesia Awakening Coalition (KIR) consisting of the Gerindra Party, the National Awakening Party (PKB) and the United Indonesia Coalition (KIB), which comprises the Golkar Party, the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the United Development Party (PPP).
Gerindra’s presidential candidate and Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto said after an iftar dinner held at PAN’s headquarters the five political parties could join forces to nominate a presidential ticket in the upcoming elections.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo attended the gathering. Conspicuously, the NasDem Party, which backs the nomination of opposition poster boy Anies Baswedan for president, and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), which has enough seats in the legislative body to go solo in the 2024 presidential race, were absent.
Prabowo said all five political parties represented in the iftar dinner at PAN’s headquarters were on the same page and had agreed to work together. If the alliance is confirmed, Prabowo said it could back a ticket endorsed by President Jokowi, to which Jokowi responded by saying that a coalition between the KIB and the KIR are a good match, although it is still up to the party leaders to decide.
In response to the move, Democratic Party politicians claimed to have been lured by executives of the pro-government parties to join the alliance. Prabowo had conveyed the same request when he met with Democrat chairman Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono (AHY) in January. However, AHY turned down the offer and chose to support Anies instead.
Democrat spokesperson Herzaky Mahendra Putra said the approach would not work as the party and the Coalition for Change, which also includes NasDem and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), remained solid in nominating Anies. According to Herzaky, the solidity was evident in the formation of a small team assigned to find a running mate for Anies. The team has already shortlisted candidates, but the final decision is up to the former Jakarta governor.
Previously, Golkar chairman Airlangga Hartarto had raised the idea of setting up a grand alliance when attending an iftar gathering at NasDem’s headquarters last week.
Assuming the grand alliance of the five parties does not crumble, the 2024 presidential race will feature three tickets. Of the three, Anies is inching closer to nomination with backing from the Coalition for Change. The PDI-P, although fulfilling the presidential threshold, has refrained from declaring its ticket too soon. But pressures have mounted for it to nominate Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo. Tougher jobs await the would-be grand alliance to strike a deal on presidential and vice presidential candidates. While the KIB remains in the dark about its best bet for the presidential race, the KIR has not found common ground about Prabowo’s nomination by Gerindra.
The Democrat Party seems unfazed with the formation of the grand alliance. The party’s head of organizational development and membership, Herman Khaeron, said the party appreciated the maneuver as a common and lawful practice. Herman believes, however, the Coalition for Change will stay solid in nominating Anies.
Similarly, the PDI-P has also shared their two cents on the grand alliance. PDI-P executive Said Abudillah reminded that the size of an alliance did not warrant victory in the 2024 election because voters would look at the figure. However, he added that the PDI-P is ready to join the alliance if offered. House of Representatives Speaker Puan Maharani, who is the daughter of PDI-P boss Megawati Soekarnoputri, also expressed her support for a grand alliance, as long as everybody shares one vision and mission.
Around the same time, rumors of dissolution of the KIB have been buzzing after PKB chairman Muhaimin Iskandar predicted Golkar would soon join the KIR. Such speculations are not baseless, particularly due to the fact that the KIB has yet to name its choice of presidential candidate. Muhaimin opines there is a crack within the KIB as PAN chairman Zulkifli Hasan has publicly stated his support for Ganjar to run as president, despite Golkar’s insistence on nominating Airlangga.
Political observer Pangi Syarwi Chaniago said Golkar would not lose much if the KIB was dissolved because it would be easy for them to be accepted into the KIR or the Coalition for Change, especially if either alliance could nominate a Golkar member as a vice presidential candidate.
What we’ve heard
Sources within Golkar said the grand alliance idea emerged to support a presidential candidate who would be endorsed by President Jokowi to fight against the alliance supporting Anies.
One of the sources also said the grand alliance would replace the KIB, which had lost its relevance. Initially, the KIB was formed as a lifeboat for Ganjar, whose prospect of running was uncertain because Megawati insisted on nominating her daughter Puan. However, when support for Ganjar grew stronger within the PDI-P, KIB leaders needed to find other strategies to stay relevant. Furthermore, the source added that “the three parties within the KIB do not have a candidate eligible to contest as Ganjar’s running mate.”
The source said the grand alliance was also designed to mount pressures on Megawati, who has not shown any signal of support for a presidential candidate from the PDI-P. “Megawati is inflexible in communicating with others, so Jokowi uses the grand alliance card to make her announce her candidate soon,” the source said.
For Jokowi, the formation of the grand alliance aims to confirm that he enjoys political support from many parties, not just the PDI-P. A source within Jokowi’s circle said the President was very disappointed with PDI-P’s maneuver that led to Indonesia’s loss of rights to host the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
This content is provided by Tenggara Strategics in collaboration with The Jakarta Post to serve the latest comprehensive and reliable analysis on Indonesia’s political and business landscape. Access the latest edition of Tenggara Backgrounder to read the articles listed below:
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