Prabowo a ‘liability’ for PDI-P
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Prabowo Subianto: (JP/P.J. Leo)
Although the presidential election is 17 months away, prospects dimmed for Prabowo Subianto after members of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) downplayed their alliance with the retired general’s Great Indonesian Movement (Gerindra) Party.
Several PDI-P leaders agreed that the party was unlikely to extend a partnership forged with Gerindra in Jakarta’s recent gubernatorial election following Prabowo’s boast that he contributed the most to the victory of the apparent winner, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.
“We’ve learned our lesson,” PDI-P senior politician Taufiq Kiemas said on Monday. Taufiq, the husband of PDI-P chairperson Megawati Soe-karnoputri and the speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly, added that “this might possibly end the coalition”.
Separately, PDI-P secretary-general Tjahjo Kumolo told The Jakarta Post that although Taufiq’s statement was personal, it also signaled the future of the coalition.
“Pak Taufiq has his own thoughts. I think they’re worth considering,” Tjahjo said on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Gerindra secretary-general Ahmad Muzani disagreed with statements that said that Prabowo took advantage of the coalition, arguing that Prabowo had been popular prior to Jakarta’s election.
“It’s up to the PDI-P to decide the future of the party. We have declared the candidacy of our chief patron [Prabowo] and we will move on,” Ahmad said.
Jokowi was backed by the PDI-P and Gerindra in the election in a coalition that evoked the 2009 presidential race, when Prabowo ran below Megawati for the nation’s top office. Few believe that such a coalition could be forged for 2014.
Several political analysts said that Prabowo would be a liability for PDI-P in 2014, with one describing the retired general as a “dangerous man”.
According to Iberamsjah, a professor of politics from the University of Indonesia, Prabowo would be dogged by allegations of human rights violations in the riots that saw the fall of the New Order.
“No one will ever forget the May 1998 riots, when Chinese-Indonesians suffered brutal violence
and the many forced disappearances [...] Prabowo is a dangerous man,” Iberamsjah told the Post on Tuesday.
Iberamsjah added that Prabowo, as the former leader of the Indonesian Military’s (TNI) Special Forces Command (Kopassus), could never wash away his dark past, therefore any party that partners with Gerindra risks losing the election.
Separately, Siti Zuhro, a political analyst at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), said that voters were concerned with the personalities of candidates, including their personal temperaments and family affairs.
“Jokowi’s victory in wooing the heart of Jakartans shows us that Indonesians prefer a modest and down-to-earth leader instead of an arrogant one,” Siti said.
Siti said that Prabowo’s efforts to bolster his image abroad would do little to boost his chances at home. “I think the majority of the public is aware of who he really is. His track record of past rights violations is well known.”
On the future of the PDI-P/Gerindra alliance, Iberamsjah and Siti agreed that PDI-P was Gerindra’s only potential partner in 2014.
The presidential election bill currently under deliberation requires that parties garner between 15 and
20 percent of the vote in the general election to nominate a presidential ticket.
Gerindra could work with smaller parties, although that would raise questions as to whether it could pass the electoral threshold.
“Building a coalition with one of the three big parties — the PDI-P, the Democratic Party and Golkar — is the only way [...]. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party’s chief patron [President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono] knows how dangerous Prabowo is,” said Iberamsjah.
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