PDI-P flexes political muscle, takes aim at potential rivals

In contrast with the fervent speeches of his fellow party members, President Jokowi remarks at the GBK event were muted.

Yerica Lai

Yerica Lai

The Jakarta Post


Up close and personal: President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (left) speaks with Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman Megawati Sukarnoputri (center) as the party’s presidential candidate Ganjar Pranowo looks on during the PDI-P national meeting in Jakarta on June 6, 2023.(Antara/Akbar Nugroho Gumay)

June 26, 2023

JAKARTA – The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) made a show of unity and electoral confidence at a grand party event over the weekend, saying it was ready to face off against potential challengers, including the rival Gerindra Party-led alliance.

PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri called on the party’s members and supporters to rally behind its presidential nominee, Ganjar Pranowo, at a party event at the Gelora Bung Karno (GBK) stadium on Saturday. Several leaders of other pro-government parties were in attendance.

The event, held to mark the peak of the “Month of Bung Karno” – or Sukarno, the country’s founding father who was born on June 6, 1901 – doubled as a show of force from the ruling party.
Among the political bigwigs at the event were Golkar Party chairman Airlangga Hartarto and National Mandate Party (PAN) chairman Zulkifli Hasan, who have yet to decide whether to join the PDI-P’s alliance or the other two major alliances, one led by the NasDem Party, the other by the Gerindra Party. The leaders of Gerindra and NasDem, Prabowo Subianto and Surya Paloh respectively, were absent from the GBK event.

National Awakening Party (PKB) deputy chairman Jazilul Fawaid was also among the attendees, even though his party has already formed an alliance with Gerindra, the PDI-P’s opponent in the last two presidential elections.

Friend or foe?

With President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Vice President Ma’ruf Amin flanking her, Megawati addressed the pro-government parties that were still unsure of whether to rally behind Ganjar and join the PDI-P alliance, namely Golkar, PAN and the PKB.

“There were three [conversations with political parties] that went like what I said earlier: ‘Well, we’ll think about it,’” Megawati said. “I told them, ‘That’s fine. If you would like to join [us], you can. If not, that’s okay.’”

The PDI-P is the only party eligible to field its own presidential and vice presidential candidate pair without forming an alliance with other parties, by virtue of its representation in the House of Representatives. The party initially appeared set to go it alone in the 2024 election, but after nominating Ganjar in April, it began coalition talks with other parties.

Those talks have included Golkar, PAN and the PKB, but the three parties are apparently still exploring their options, including possibly backing Prabowo, who is seeking to enter the presidential race for the third time, reportedly with the tacit support of President Jokowi, who remains a formidable electoral force.

Speculation is rife that Jokowi and other parties are hesitant to join the PDI-P’s coalition because Ganjar has signed a “political contract” with Megawati to allow her to decide his running mate and the composition of his Cabinet, allegations that both the PDI-P leadership and Ganjar himself have denied.

In contrast with the fervent speeches of his fellow party members, President Jokowi remarks at the GBK event were muted. He wished the party and the presidential nominee luck in the upcoming race.

Bu Megawati Soekarnoputri’s message earlier was clear. I don’t have to repeat it. I just want to say good luck and have the fighting spirit to win,” he said.

A show of unity

The event was among the first major appearances for Ganjar as the PDI-P presidential candidate. He was given the symbolic role of reciting “Dedication of Life”, a speech written and delivered by Soekarno in 1966 when he first came into the presidency.

Taking center stage afterward was Puan Maharani, the party’s heir apparent, who is thought to have coveted the 2024 presidential nomination. Emulating her mother Megawati’s fiery oratory style, Puan, who was assigned by her mother to lead the party’s efforts to win next year’s presidential and legislative races, stressed the need for party unity and called on members to rally behind Ganjar.

Inviting Ganjar to the podium to share the spotlight with her, Puan said, “We want the succession of national leadership to carry on smoothly, and the torch can be passed to the new presidential and vice presidential candidates of the PDI-P.”

“Today we are determined to work hard, with a fire that never dies, for the PDI-P to win and for the PDI-P’s presidential candidate Ganjar Pranowo to win,” Puan added.

Puan’s fiery speech and her willingness to share the spotlight with Ganjar were the most surprising elements of the party event, said Yunarto Wijaya, executive director of Charta Politika.

“For Puan, the burden that she has been carrying all this time is the perception that she is not willing to work for Ganjar Pranowo and the perceived factionalism in the party, especially between Ganjar and Puan loyalists,” Yunarto said. “Puan wanted to show that, ‘We are solid, and I am toeing the party’s line for Ganjar to win. The factionalism is over.’” (ahw)

scroll to top