Executives of the ruling Democratic Party said on Thursday that the party could ally with the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) in the 2014 presidential race following a statement that the PDI-P chairperson Megawati Soekarnoputri would not run in the race.
Megawati’s statement has been widely perceived as a go-ahead for popular Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, also a PDI-P politician, to run for president on the party’s ticket.
“We acknowledge the results of surveys [on potential presidential candidates]. Thus, electability and popularity of the candidates do matter [to us] in addition to their integrity and loyalty,” Democratic Party deputy chair Nurhayati Ali Assegaf said on Thursday when asked about the possibility of the party picking Jokowi as a presidential candidate.
She added that the party would welcome Jokowi, as well as other politicians from other political parties, to participate in the party’s primary, slated for July this year.
When asked whether the Democratic Party would be also open to collaborating with PDI-P, Nurhayati responded briefly: “Why not?”
Senior Democratic Party lawmaker Sutan Bhatoegana concurred with Nurhayati, saying that it was difficult to deny the star power of Jokowi. “However, [Jokowi’s] candidacy would depend on his willingness to apply for the convention and consent from the PDI-P,” he said. “We are always open to forming a coalition with the PDI-P,” he added.
Sutan said that his party continued monitoring the electability ratings of other candidates including former Constitutional Court chief justice Mahfud MD, Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan and House of Regional Representatives speaker Irman Gusman.
The deputy chairman of the Democratic Party’s supreme assembly, Marzuki Alie, however, insisted that the primary “is for non-partisan outsiders.” The House of Representatives speaker emphasized that the convention would only select candidates from within the party or individuals who had no affiliation to any other political party.
Marzuki has already said that he would run in the primary.
Jokowi, a member of the PDI-P, has topped the list of most electable presidential candidates in several opinion polls.
A recent opinion poll by Jakarta-based think tank the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, for example, found that if the election were to take place today, Jokowi would get 28.6 percent of the vote, ahead of the Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party chief patron Lt. Gen. (ret) Prabowo Subianto with 15.6 percent, Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie with 7 percent and Megawati with 5.4 percent.
PDI-P executive Puan Maharani, who is also Megawati’s daughter, said on Tuesday that the party had consistently nominated younger politicians in regional elections and would likely use the same strategy at the national level.
Arya Fernandez, a political analyst from Charta Politika, said that the chances of the Democrats allying with the PDI-P were very slim but not impossible.