Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Prabowo says Jokowi owes his meteoric rise to him

After declining to comment on the rise of Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, chief patron of the Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party Lt. Gen. (ret.) Prabowo Subianto has finally spoken up about who could potentially beat him in the 2014 presidential election.

Responding to questions on whether he had held talks with Jokowi or the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) about a possible coalition for next year’s election, Prabowo suggested Jokowi ought to join his ticket.

“I was the one who brought him [Jokowi] here from Surakarta. I was also the one who asked the PDI-P and Ibu Mega to nominate him,” Prabowo told reporters on the sidelines of an iftar dinner on Monday evening, referring to PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri.

Prabowo appeared to have realized that his popularity had slipped with the rise of Jokowi and that his chance of becoming the country’s next president would improve only if he joined the Jokowi bandwagon.

Prabowo, however, suggested that he could not offer much until the 2014 legislative election next year.

As required by Law No. 42/2008 on presidential elections, Gerindra needs to win at least 20 percent of the votes to independently nominate the former commander of the Army’s Special Forces (Kopassus) for president.

Prabowo went on to blast the House of Representatives for refusing to amend the Presidential Election Law.

“It’s an unfair regulation because it violates the 1945 Constitution. But it is the law so we have to abide by it. How can I offer things today when I don’t even know how much I will win [in the legislative election]? There is a long way to go, we have to meet the threshold first,” Prabowo said.

He said that Gerindra would only negotiate a coalition with another party if it failed to meet the threshold.

According to a recent survey by the Indonesia Research Center (IRC), Jokowi would garner 32 percent of the vote if an election were to take place today, leaving Prabowo far behind in second place with only 8.2 percent of the vote.

Earlier this year, Jakarta-based think tank Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) also predicted that Jokowi would get 28.6 percent of the vote if a presidential election were to take place today, ahead of Prabowo with only 15.6 percent of the vote.

On Tuesday, Martin Hutabarat, a member of Gerindra’s board of patrons, said that the party did not see Jokowi as a threat to Prabowo’s presidential ambitions.

“As you know, Gerindra joined hands with the PDI-P to nominate Jokowi in last year’s gubernatorial election. We are very proud of his success. So, Gerindra and PDI-P should also work together in the presidential election,” Martin said.

Regardless of Jokowi’s growing popularity, he would have to wait for a decision from Megawati.

PDI-P secretary-general Tjahjo Kumolo told The Jakarta Post that “PDI-P, as well as Ibu Mega, are still closely monitoring the ongoing dynamics approaching the 2014 election”.

“We appreciate all the polls indicating Pak Jokowi’s popularity as well as the public’s trust in him. I’m confident that he is a true and sincere person,” Tjahjo said.

Separately, PDI-P executive Maruarar Sirait said the party would consider many factors before nominating a candidate.

“It’s also about momentum. Bu Mega will announce it when it’s time. However, I must emphasize that popularity is among the crucial factors,” Maruarar said.

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