Jokowi-Megawati rift may hinder Prabowo’s efforts to include PDI-P in his government

Relations between President Jokowi and Megawati have deteriorated since Mr Jokowi decided to throw his weight behind his former rival-turned-ally Prabowo Subianto instead of the party’s presidential candidate, former Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo.

Yerica Lai

Yerica Lai

The Jakarta Post


President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo, Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri, and Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo arrive on Sept. 29, 2023, at the venue for the party's national meeting in East Jakarta. PHOTO: ANTARA/THE JAKARTA POST

April 18, 2024

JAKARTA – The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) has shown no interest in mending strained ties with nominal member President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, a complication that may stand in the way of president-elect Prabowo Subianto’s efforts to include the country’s largest political party in his governing coalition.

Talk of a potential reconciliatory meeting between Jokowi and PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri recently surfaced after the Presidential Palace suggested last week that “it was only a matter of time” before Jokowi would meet with Megawati and that it was working “to find the right time” to make a meeting happen.

Relations between Jokowi and Megawati have deteriorated since Jokowi decided to throw his weight behind his former rival-turned-ally Prabowo Subianto instead of the party’s presidential candidate, former Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo.

Jokowi’s eldest son Gibran Rakabuming Raka ran in November of last year as vice presidential candidate to Prabowo, allowing the defense minister to tap into the President’s huge support base and win the February presidential race.

The idea to have Jokowi meet Megawati however got the cold shoulder from PDI-P members, who said Jokowi must first face party members at the grassroots if he wishes to have a moment with the party’s matriarch after his betrayal.

“While Lebaran brings opportunity for silaturahmi [strengthening kinship], in the context related to pak Jokowi, the grassroots of the party have said ‘wait a minute, let [Jokowi] meet with us first because we serve as the fortress for ibu Megawati,” PDI-P secretary-general Hasto Kristiyanto said last week.

But when asked about the current state of the relationship between Megawati and Jokowi, Hasto suggested that it was hard for Megawati to stand with Jokowi, who now walks a different path from her party.

“Democracy, principles of anti-nepotism and the rule of law have been undermined. Should we ignore this?” Hasto said. “As a nation, we must have a principle.”

The PDI-P has claimed that Jokowi used his clout to cling to power and swing the election in favor of his preferred candidates.

While staunch Jokowi supporters have accused Hasto of preventing the two figures from meeting, Budi Arie Setiadi of ProJo, Jokowi’s largest network of volunteers which backed the Prabowo-Gibran presidential bid, has acknowledged that any reconciliatory meeting might not be on the horizon.

“There is no [chance for the two to meet] now,” said Budi, who is also the communications and information minister in Jokowi’s cabinet.

Political analysts were also pessimistic that Jokowi and Megawati could put aside their differences in near future, given Megawati’s huge disappointment in the PDI-P member she once helped rise to power.

“It seems that for now the Jokowi-Megawati meeting is still unlikely to materialize because Megawati still feels the pain of being betrayed,” Muslim Kennedy of pollster Indikator Politik Indonesia told The Jakarta Post.

With coalition talks for the incoming government starting to pick up pace, Kennedy said the ongoing conflict between Jokowi and Megawati would present a challenge for Prabowo, who has been seeking to bring the PDI-P into his coalition.

Forming a coalition with the PDI-P, which stands to secure the largest number of seats in the House of Representatives after winning the most votes in the February legislative election, could help Prabowo run an effective government, as the four pro-Prabowo parties failed to command a majority in the legislature.

“Based on today’s political dynamics, the PDI-P will most likely continue its position outside the government as an opposition [to a pro-Prabowo coalition of parties in the House], while waiting for Prabowo’s honeymoon phase to end,” Kennedy said. “Then the opportunity to enter the government will be open.”

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