Friday, September 6, 2013

PDI-P divided over Jokowi question

In the run-up to the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle’s (PDI-P) national meeting on Friday, the party is reportedly divided between incumbent chair Megawati Soekarnoputri and popular Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to become the party’s candidate for the 2014 presidential election.

Although some of the party’s grassroots members have openly supported the nomination of Jokowi, many others are holding back, saying that the national leadership meeting, which runs through Sunday, should not determine the presidential candidate.

Leader of the PDI-P Jakarta chapter, Djarot Syaiful Hidayat, said the meeting would discuss, among other things, criteria for the party’s presidential candidate.

“The PDI-P presidential candidate must be able to maintain Indonesia’s sovereignty. He or she must also have considerable political experience either in the legislative or executive branches of government,” he said.

Djarot also hinted that the candidate should be both Javanese and Muslim. “I am not being discriminatory; I am purely reflecting our current demographic situation,” he said.

PDI-P executives, however, insisted that the meeting would not discuss Jokowi’s presidential bid.

“We want to listen to the aspirations of our members at regional and local levels, especially in preparing for the 2014 elections,” party executive and House of Representatives’ Deputy Speaker Pramono Anung said on Thursday.

He said that a decision about the party’s presidential candidate would not made during the meeting.

“We know we have the chance to win the election, but the convention would be the best moment for consolidation at the national level.”

Prior to the national meeting, Local PDI-P leaders reportedly requested an audience with Megawati, during which they proposed Jokowi for the party’s presidential ticket.

PDI-P secretary-general Tjahjo Kumolo said, however, that the meeting would not make any decision regarding the 2014 presidential election.

“Naming a presidential candidate would be very sensitive at the moment. We must be smart and prudent. Based on the political gestures that I have been observing, it will not happen at tomorrow’s [Friday] meeting,” he said.

Indo Barometer political analyst Muhammad Qodari said the PDI-P would not be making any key decisions anytime soon.

“Naming a presidential candidate this weekend might be too early. It could also disrupt Jokowi’s work as governor,” he said.

Qodari suspected that the PDI-P’s reluctance to name Jokowi as its presidential candidate could also be the result of a rift within the party.

“Many other party members also have a chance of being nominated; people like Puan [Maharani], Pramono and [newly elected] Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo, not to mention Megawati herself.”

Megawati, who served as president from 2001 to 2004, has been given the mandate to name the party’s presidential candidate. The PDI-P has long been associated with the country’s first president, Sukarno, Megawati’s father.

Speculation is rife that Jokowi would face some resistance in his nomination, but many have also predicted that Megawati could also succumb to the pressure if Jokowi’s popularity kept on gaining momentum.

The Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party, one of the PDI-P’s strongest allies, is also opposed to Jokowi’s possible nomination. Gerindra founder and its chief patron, Lt. Gen. (ret) Prabowo Subianto has continued to trail behind Jokowi in many opinion polls.

A senior Gerindra politician, Ahmad Muzani, said there was an agreement that Megawati would back Prabowo’s candidacy in 2014.

He said he advised Jokowi to finish his term as Jakarta governor.

Separately, Jokowi said he was ready to attend the national PDI-P meeting, where he is slated to deliver a speech before hundreds of PDI-P members from across the country.

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