May 8, 2023
JAKARTA – The ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) could face an uphill battle in stitching together a powerful “preelection coalition” to contest the 2024 presidential race in its bid to retain control in the next government, analysts have said.
Though it is the only party eligible to field a presidential candidate without forming an alliance, PDI-P matriarch Megawati Soekarnoputri has said she welcomes other pro-government parties interested in joining the ruling party and backing its presidential candidate, Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo.
“I have given some room for [any party that wants] to work with us. And so it turns out that the very first is the PPP,” Megawati told reporters on the sidelines of a seminar in Bali on Friday, referring to the Muslim-based United Development Party.
Her statement comes as other pro-government parties try to push for the creation of an alternative political bloc to potentially back Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, the Gerindra Party chair and President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s former rival.
“I have heard that some other parties have asked [or] lobbied Puan for a meeting [with the PDI-P],” Megawati continued, referring to her daughter Puan Maharani, who is also a PDI-P executive and Speaker of the House of Representatives. “I told her to go ahead and we will arranged them,” she said.
She added that t he party also had to decide on its candidates for the legislative election, set to be held simultaneously with the presidential election next year. “With regard to the [presidential election], I also have a duty to find the running mate. Let me think which one should come first,” Megawati said.
Airlangga Pribadi, a political science lecturer at Surabaya’s Airlangga University, said that while there was a need for the PDI-P to “widen its spectrum of support” to help Ganjar win the presidency, the country’s largest party also seemed to be considering a “post-2014 power constellation” as part of the equation.
“A minority preelection coalition that can be [maintained] after the elections will create high political risks, such as deadlock and tension between the executive and legislative branches,” he said.
“From the outset, forming an electoral alliance [that lends] considerable political support will help the PDI-P avoid more complicated political negotiations [arising from] considerable opposition pressure in the post-election government,” he said.
This will not be easy however, according to Ahmad Khoirul Umam, an analyst at Paramadina University, who points to indications that some pro-government parties are dissatisfied with the PDI-P’s dominance in the current government.
Read also: PDI-P must not dominate grand alliance, Golkar says
“There seems to be an undercurrent among pro-government parties that view the PDI-P as too dominant and monopolistic in the power distribution within the coalition government,” said Umam.
“This perception of the PDI-P as domineering has naturally given rise to efforts from pro-government parties to find new equilibrium in preelection coalitions,” he added.
Talks on forming a “grand coalition” of major government parties, primarily to tout a single presidential ticket featuring frontrunners Ganjar and Prabowo, appears to have hit a wall, as the PDI-P and Gerindra have both insisted that their respective picks run for president.
Meanwhile, the pro-government United Development Party (PPP), which is a member of the Golkar Party-led United Indonesia Coalition (KIB), has instead decided to lend its weight to the PDI-P following Ganjar’s nomination.
On the other hand, fellow KIB member Golkar has joined the National Awakening Party (PKB), the sole ally of Gerindra in the Great Indonesia Awakening Coalition (KKIR), in a renewed effort to drive negotiations forward on the “grand coalition”, with Prabowo as their presumptive nominee.
Read also: Golkar, PKB proclaim ‘driving’ role in grand alliance
Now that talks appeared to have collapsed over a potential Ganjar-Prabowo ticket, Umam said, there seemed to be a new problem in how to select a running mate and distribute Cabinet portfolios in the next government.
“The PDI-P may have its own preference [in allocating Cabinet positions]”, drawing on its decade-long experience of running the Jokowi administration, he continued, with it often viewing the President as a party official over which it had no control.
In other words, “the PDI-P might feel that it won the [previous] elections but in some sense, it has not been ruling”, he added.
Analyst Pribadi, however, said there was still ample room for alliances to shift before parties needed to register their candidates.
“Up to the last minute of the November deadline, we will see a lot of negotiations and political maneuvers,” he said.