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Saturday, September 7, 2013

‘Time to take over!’: PDI-P

Future leader?: Popular Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (left) bows to Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) leader Megawati Soekarnoputri (in black dress, sitting in the front row) and other party executives before reading the “Dedication of Life” during the party’s national coordinating meeting in Ancol in Jakarta on Friday. (Tribunnews /Dany Permana)
Future leader?: Popular Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (left) bows to Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) leader Megawati Soekarnoputri (in black dress, sitting in the front row) and other party executives before reading the “Dedication of Life” during the party’s national coordinating meeting in Ancol in Jakarta on Friday. (Tribunnews /Dany Permana)


The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the nation’s largest opposition party, is growing more confident that next year would be its year as it seems increasingly more likely to nominate star politician Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, as its presidential candidate.

During the party’s national meeting in Jakarta on Friday, Jokowi — a top 2014 presidential contender according to various opinion polls and surveys — virtually eclipsed the presence of party chairperson Megawati Soekarnoputri, who compared the former Surakarta mayor to her charismatic father and the country’s first president, Sukarno.

Before Megawati opened the meeting, Jokowi was asked to read a speech called “Dedication of Life”, which was written and read by Sukarno on Sept. 10, 1966.

“I am an ordinary man, I am far from perfection,” Jokowi said while reading Sukarno’s piece. “My only happiness is to serve God, the country and the nation […] this dedication is my philosophy of life and is used in my every step.”

His speech drew applause from the hundreds of party members in the audience who shouted “long live Jokowi!” and “Jokowi for President!”. Outside the meeting room, T-shirts that read “Jokowi for 2014” were on sale.

Megawati mentioned the name of Jokowi several times in her speech in what could be seen as her most explicit support for the Jakarta governor’s presidential bid.

“Why did Pak Jokowi read ‘Dedication of Life’?” she asked the party members. “It is to show that regeneration will occur naturally.”

The former president, who lost her presidency to her former minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, said that over the past decade the party had produced quality leaders, including Jokowi.

“They have to be trained to face the test of time. The challenges they face will not be easy,” Megawati said.

Despite the fanfare, the party said there would be no rush to name the presidential nominee.

Megawati said the party’s first priority would be to garner enough votes to nominate a presidential candidate. The 2008 Law on presidential election stipulates a party — or group of political parties — could nominate a president if they received at least 25 percent of the national legislative vote or 20 percent of the seats at the House of Representatives.

“Please be patient [about the presidential nomination],” Megawati said, adding that the party would not be dictated by or bound to an agreement with other parties regarding the presidential elections.

She was referring to a statement made by Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party politicians who claimed the PDI-P had agreed to not nominate Jokowi when they formed an alliance to back Jokowi and Gerindra politician Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama in the Jakarta gubernatorial election.

Previously, PDI-P executive and Megawati’s daughter, Puan Maharani, said that during the convention representatives from local party chapters would hold a closed-door meeting with Megawati to convey their thoughts about Jokowi’s presidential bid.

“[Megawati] did not mention Jokowi was the candidate, we are still focusing on consolidating the party members to win the upcoming legislative election,” she said on the sidelines of Friday’s meeting.

PDI-P executive Maruarar Sirait said the party had a fighting chance to win the 2014 election, given the number of surveys that placed the party either first or second place in terms of electability. He added that it would be the first time in years that the party had two political figures that topped presidential candidate national surveys.

“Next year is our time to stop being an opposition,” he said.

Another PDI-P politician, Sidarto Danusubroto, who is also the chairman of the People’s Consultative Council, also voiced optimism about the party’s chances in 2014. “We have been an opposition party for 10 years. It is now time to take over [the administration],” he said,

Earlier this month, a survey by the country’s leading newspaper Kompas showed that Jokowi managed to double his lead over his strongest opponent — Patron of Gerindra Party Lt. Gen. (ret) Prabowo Subianto.

The survey revealed that in June, 32.5 percent of respondents said they would vote for Jokowi, an increase from 17.7 percent in December last year. Prabowo enjoyed an increase of 2 percent to 15.1 percent in the same period. The opinion poll also showed that Jokowi stood a greater chance of becoming the next president, outdoing Prabowo and Megawati herself.

Jokowi has not stated any intention of running for president. When asked about Megawati’s compliment, Jokowi said: “I think Ibu also mentioned other people. Just ask Ibu Mega: I am still working for Jakarta.”

 
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