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PDI-P may be warming to
Jokowi for 2014

Leaders of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) are not ruling out nominating popular Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo instead of PDI-P chairperson Megawati Soekarnoputri for president in 2014.

Jokowi, elected governor in September, has publicly opposed plans to nominate him for president, saying that he would focus on tackling the host of ills plaguing the capital.

However, on Monday, PDI-P secretary-general Tjahjo Kumolo issued a statement indicating that the party might be warming to the idea of nominating Jokowi in 2014.

“We truly understand that Jokowi wants to be accountable to Jakartans as their governor. But politics are always dynamic. Let’s just wait for his next move,” he said.

Tjahjo also apparently hinted that the party might have its own plans for the governor. “Jokowi must have his own political considerations and calculations. We are still waiting for the right moment.”

Observers have said that the PDI-P would likely wait until the last moment before deciding to nominate Jokowi, fearing that an early announcement might sour public opinion toward Jokowi as a political opportunist.

While the PDI-P has not announced a candidate for 2014, Megawati, a former president who has lost two bids for reelection, is expected to make another run for the nation’s highest office.

A national meeting of the party in Bandung, West Java, in 2011 gave Megawati the authority to decide the party’s next presidential candidate.

Lawmaker Puan Maharani, a party executive and a daughter of Megawati, said that the party might nominate Jokowi with Megawati’s approval after it met the legislative threshold for the next election.

“We are still focusing on national consolidation to secure at least 20 percent of the legislative seats,” she said.

According to the 2009 law on presidential elections, only political parties that win more than 20 percent of the seats in the House of Representatives, whether alone or in coalition, can field presidential candidates.

The PDI-P is reportedly divided on whether Megawati should run in 2014. Party patron Taufiq Kiemas, who is also Megawati’s husband, said that Megawati should not be nominated.

However, Taufiq has also recently said that Jokowi should focus on his work as governor and not as a presidential candidate, especially on a PDI-P ticket.

A survey released by the Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI) this weekend said that Megawati was the potential candidate with the best prospects for 2014, with 20.7 percent of respondents saying they would vote for her if the election was held today.

Jokowi was not included in the survey, as the LSI only polled candidates nominated by political parties.

However, the survey said that Jokowi was backed by 35.2 percent of respondents as a good vice presidential candidate, faring better than former vice president Jusuf Kalla and Coordinating Economic Minister and National Mandate Party (PAN) chairman Hatta Rajasa.

Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) analyst Siti Zuhro said that it would be unethical for Jokowi to run in 2014. “In 2014, he would have only served as governor for less than 2 years and, at that time, he is not likely to have made significant changes in Jakarta yet. Will he be as popular as today? I don’t think so,” she said.

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