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Talk of deals in run-up to Indonesia polls

COALITION DEAL? Sources say Gerindra's Mr Basuki (above) may become Mr Joko's running mate.


    Apr 07, 2014

    Talk of deals in run-up to Indonesia polls


    THE fierce election rivalry between the Gerindra Party and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) has intensified as campaigning for the polls on Wednesday

    draws to a close.

    Gerindra chief patron Prabowo Subianto and Jakarta Governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who is the PDI-P presidential candidate, are set to face each other for the presidency this year, should their respective parties win enough votes or establish a solid coalition with other parties.

    Mr Prabowo has not held back on showing the PDI-P or Mr Joko what he thinks of them.

    The former general has called on the public not to elect a "puppet president" - a reference many believe to be aimed at Mr Joko.

    To demonstrate the PDI-P's lack of loyalty, Mr Prabowo also revealed a 2009 backroom political deal under which the party was supposed to back Gerindra for his presidential bid rather than Mr Joko's.

    Still, politics has a way of providing surprises.

    A source at Gerindra, who insisted on remaining anonymous, revealed that, behind closed doors, Gerindra and the PDI-P were in talks to establish a coalition that would rule the country at both the executive and legislative levels during the 2014-2019 term.

    The source said Mr Prabowo's younger brother and Gerindra deputy chief patron Hashim Djojohadikusumo had met PDI-P chair Megawati Soekarnoputri. At the meeting, he had offered Jakarta Deputy Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who is from Gerindra, as Mr Joko's running mate in the presidential race.

    The meeting took place about a month ago, the source told The Jakarta Post.

    He said that during the meeting, Mr Hashim and Ms Megawati agreed that the most logical move for both parties was to establish a coalition.

    "Megawati knows she cannot rely on building a coalition with the Golkar Party because history shows that this party likes to change its stance based on its own vested interests. On the other hand, a coalition with the Democratic Party is also out of the question as this party will not be a significant force in the next term," the source said.

    "The PDI-P believes it can garner at most only 31 per cent of the votes in the legislative election. Establishing a coalition with a top party is a must to safeguard its political interests in the House of Representatives - and that party is Gerindra."

    The agreement on the planned coalition is supposed to come into effect after the legislative elections have been completed, according to the source.

    "That was the ideal scenario - if only Megawati had stuck to her promise to announce Jokowi's candidacy after the legislative election.

    "However, she succumbed to pressure from the pro-Jokowi faction in the PDI-P and made the announcement sooner than expected. This disappointed Prabowo," the source added.

    The turn of events led Mr Prabowo to fire negative statements at the PDI-P and Mr Joko. Seeing an apparent fallout, Mr Basuki then reportedly tried to play peacemaker for Mr Prabowo and Ms Megawati.

    In response to the issue, PDI-P deputy secretary-general Hasto Kristianto said: "We have no idea why Gerindra sees Jokowi's nomination as a sign for full-blown competition. After all these attacks, we would need to really reconsider if they want to establish a coalition with us in the future."