Friday, March 14, 2014

Euphoria on Jokowi too early

Political analysts and Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) members warned that it was too early to listen to hearsay regarding the endorsement, by party chair Megawati Soekarnoputri, of Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo as the party’s presidential candidate.

The rumor mill has been working overtime following a short trip they made to former president Sukarno’s final resting place.

Megawati took Jokowi to visit the tomb of Sukarno, her father, in Blitar, East Java, on Wednesday. Many saw this move as her backing for Jokowi in the 2014 presidential election.

PDI-P politician Budiman Sudjatmiko said the rumors were just that: pure speculation.

“The visit to Sukarno’s grave — taking one of our finest members to pray at his grave — was only a gesture of respect,” Budiman told The Jakarta Post over the phone on Thursday.

He said that until Megawati made an official announcement, Jokowi’s candidacy would “remain [pure] speculation”.

Jokowi has topped public opinion polls as the most electable candidate in the upcoming presidential election. He managed to gain national and international recognition after his successful tenure as mayor of Surakarta. The PDI-P then backed him in the Jakarta gubernatorial race, which he won
with ease.

Jokowi’s popularity is driven by his humble personality and clean track record. He is also popular among the PDI-P grassroots because many consider him to be a true Marhaenis. Marhaenism was a socialist ideology conceived by Sukarno.

Due to Jokowi’s growing popularity, many camps within the PDI-P are pressuring Megawati to officially declare him a presidential candidate so the party can win a significant share of the vote during the legislative election and secure a large portion of the seats at the House of Representatives.

Given his popularity, prominent political figures have also begun approaching Jokowi. One of them is Jusuf Kalla, whose supporters in the Golkar Party have floated the idea of a Jokowi-Kalla duet.

In response to attempts to swipe Jokowi from under the nose of the PDI-P, the party swiftly attempted to bring Jokowi back into the fold — as indicated by the sudden decision to visit Sukarno’s grave, a cause for celebration among Jokowi supporters.

Political analysts regarded Megawati’s decision to take Jokowi to Blitar as her way of saying she was still in charge of the party in spite of the governor’s growing popularity.

“What Megawati did can be interpreted in various ways. For those who support Jokowi, they will see the move as official endorsement, but for others, they could see it as a way Megawati can maintain the interests of the public because the party has a valuable asset in the form of Jokowi,” Paramadina University political analyst Yudi Latif told the Post.

“By taking Jokowi to Sukarno’s tomb, Megawati has also managed to ease the tension and pressure from the pro-Jokowi camp. She showed them that Jokowi will play an important role in the PDI-P.
At the very least, he could be vice president,” he added.

University of Indonesia (UI) political communication expert Effendi Gazali said that both Megawati and Jokowi had used the visit as a symbol of trust and loyalty between them.

“Megawati showed that she was still Jokowi’s mentor. On the other hand, Jokowi displayed his loyalty toward Megawati and the Sukarno clan by going — even though he was given such short notice to attend,” Effendi said.

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