The Jakarta Post
Internal rifts within the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) in the wake of the party's poorer-than-expected results in Wednesday's legislative election could jeopardize Jakarta Governor Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo's chances in the July 9 presidential election.
Jokowi, who is the PDI-P's presidential candidate, could not hide his disappointment upon learning of the party's electoral results based on quick counts. The PDI-P, despite being ahead in the counts, appears to have garnered only 18 to 19 percent of the vote.
Numerous surveys and analysts had predicted the PDI-P would garner 27 percent of the vote with Jokowi as its front man.
Jokowi said late on Wednesday that the PDI-P's showing could have been better if the party's political machinery had worked harder.
'The political marketing was not pushed to its limit,' criticized Jokowi, referring to the party's minimal campaign ads that positioned him as an icon. 'So if you asked me if I am disappointed, then clearly I am,' he added.
The responsibility for winning the legislative election was that of PDI-P chairperson Megawati Soekarnoputri's daughter, Puan Maharani, who headed the party's campaign team. Puan acknowledged on Wednesday that the quick count results were far below the party's expectations and an internal evaluation would be conducted immediately.
Since the legislative campaign period last month, both Jokowi and Puan mostly went separate ways. Someone from Jokowi's inner-circle said that the party almost did not provide any funds for Jokowi to campaign, leaving the governor to use his personal savings.
Jokowi also could not freely use the two rented aircraft provided by the party as they were always reserved by Megawati and Puan.
Several of the PDI-P's top brass gathered at Megawati's residence on Jl. Teuku Umar in Central Jakarta late on Wednesday to evaluate the party's electoral performance. A source said that during the meeting, rifts started to surface as most of Jokowi's supporters blamed Puan for the party's disappointing performance.
Commenting on the issue, PDI-P deputy secretary-general Ahmad Basarah said no rifts had emerged after the quick counts.
'There were dynamics within our internal evaluation, but this is common in any political party or institution. Dynamics are not the same as conflict,' Ahmad said at the PDI-P headquarters in Lenteng Agung, South Jakarta, on Thursday.
He said the PDI-P also felt that the quick count results could not be used as a basis to judge whether the party's political machinery had done its job or not.
'The most important vote calculation is the real count results from the General Elections Commission [KPU]. We believe [it will be revealed] we garnered more than 20 percent of the vote in the real count,' he said.
Based on the Presidential Election Law, a political party can only nominate a presidential candidate if it garners at least 20 percent of the 560 seats at the House of Representatives or 25 percent of the popular vote. If a party cannot achieve one of the targets, it must build a coalition with other parties to meet the required percentage.
Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) political analyst Ikrar Nusa Bhakti said that Jokowi's disappointment needed to be taken seriously by the PDI-P because it could lead to growing internal rifts that could stymie the party's goal of ruling the country in the 2014-2019 period.
'It seems that there are elements within the PDI-P that do not want to see Jokowi become president. What the PDI-P as a whole must realize, however, is that Jokowi is the best figure the party can offer right now to win the presidency. Without him, the quick count results could have been a lot lower for the PDI-P,' Ikrar said.
'So, the potential for internal conflict caused by the disappointing quick count results must be resolved immediately. This is probably the only chance the PDI-P has to win the elections after 10 years of being outside of the government. It must seize the moment or it will probably never get another chance,' he said.
Besides settling any internal conflict, the PDI-P should also carefully consider and prepare political deals to make with other parties to form coalitions and the government as its next move ahead of the presidential election, Ikrar added.
However, further infighting between Jokowi's and Puan's camps may still loom as Jokowi is already out of the loop in determining the party's alliance course.
Megawati has appointed Puan and PDI-P secretary-general Tjahjo Kumolo to act on the party's behalf to negotiate terms with other parties' top officials for the coalition, according to PDI-P deputy secretary-general Hasto Kristianto.
Jokowi has previously warned the party about repeating the mistake of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's administration, in which it was forced to give away ministerial posts and other concessions in exchange for coalition support.
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