Prabowo’s ‘permanent coalition’ looking tenuous

Jet Damazo-Santos
This means that if indeed Jokowi is declared the election winner, he might not have to contend with a majority opposition in the legislature

RED WHITE COALITION. Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto (C-in white) with his running mate Hatta Rajasa (C-in blue) hold hands with the leaders of political parties forming the coalition after declaration of a permanent coalition in Jakarta on July 14, 2014. Photo by Adek Berry/AFP

JAKARTA, Indonesia – A day after being established, the “permanent coalition” of political parties supporting former general Prabowo Subianto and Hatta Rajasa is already looking tenuous.  

Statements from leaders of other parties in the Red White Coalition indicate not everyone will stick with it through thick and thin, and analysts are predicting changes if the General Election Commission (KPU) announces on July 22 that Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is the winner of Indonesia’s most divisive presidential election.

“I believe that if on the 22nd the KPU confirms the results that we have for the quick counts, then the wheels will fall off of Prabowo’s so-called coalition,” said Dr. Marcus Mietzner, an associate professor at the Australian National University who researches Indonesian politics. He was speaking at a forum organized by the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club on Tuesday, July 15.

Mietzner maintained that all credible quick counts have found Jokowi the election winner, even as Prabowo reiterated in a press conference on Monday night that their own monitoring of the real count shows him winning.

“I do believe that only [Gerindra] and PKS will stay, and all of the others will go sooner or later,” Mietzner added, referring to Prabowo’s Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) and the Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (Prosperous Justice Party or PKS).

No permanence

Leaders of other members of the Red White Coalition that was announced on Monday, July 14, at the Proclamation Monument in Jakarta have since given statements contradicting its permanence.

Dimyati Natakusumah, the deputy chairman of the United Development Party (PPP), for example, told Tempo on Monday that they’re ready to support Jokowi and his running mate Jusuf Kalla and join their cabinet if they win.  

“If we are in the government, we can work directly for the people,” Dimyati was quoted as saying.

The ruling Democratic Party, which announced its support for Prabowo less than two weeks before the July 9 election, was represented by Jakarta branch chair Nachrowi Ramli at the coalition announcement on Monday. However, party chairman Syarief Hasan on Tuesday denied sending him.

“Permanent Red White coalition? I’m not aware there was an invitation for such an event. I’m now on duty in Medan,” he told Kompas, and added that it was too early to declare a permanent coalition.

Golkar Party, on the other hand, the second largest party in the legislature, is seen to be divided.

“Golkar is very dynamic. It can be a coalition member today, and then change tomorrow. It’s normal. This is politics,” Kalla, a former Golkar chairman, was quoted on MetroTV as saying.

“We will see the developments later. Don’t forget an extraordinary national congress will be soon held to elect new Golkar leader,” he added, hinting current chairman Aburizal Bakrie would soon be replaced.

Political analyst Kevin Evans, the founder of pemilu.asia, told the JFCC forum “Golkar will find its way to the winning side” and similarly predicted only PKS will stick with Gerindra.

Control of the legislature

Mietzner noted that these indicate waning support for Prabowo.

“We see already the signs of that on the ground. A lot of people on the Prabowo side, the so-called coalition partners, are not pursuing this with the same kind of enthusiasm that on the one hand the Jokowi camp is doing in terms of checking the results, in terms of really making sure that everything is going to plan, and you already see coalition partners defecting from the Prabowo camp,” he said. 

This means that if indeed Jokowi is declared the election winner, he might not have to contend with a majority opposition in the legislature. (READ: Prabowo’s coalition moves to control the legislature)

Prabowo’s coalition of 6 parties in the House of Representatives (DPR) has 353 of the 560 seats, or 63%. Jokowi’s party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), leads a coalition of 4 parties that control 207 seats in the DPR.

Jokowi has previously brushed these concerns aside, saying having minority support in the DPR wouldn’t be a problem, and Evans agreed. “When Jokowi says I don’t need a big fat coalition, he’s speaking from experience. He’s been running Jakarta with 20% support,” he said.

If Golkar, the Democratic Party, and PPP change sides, it would give Jokowi the support of 398 seats or 71% of DPR. – Rappler.com