The Jakarta Post
In an apparent move to control power at the House of Representatives, seven political parties that endorsed the presidential candidacy of Prabowo Subianto and his running mate, Hatta Rajasa, signed a pact on Monday to set up what they described as 'a permanent coalition'.
On Monday, the chairmen and secretaries-general of the parties, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to seal the deal witnessed by Prabowo, who was named the coalition's patron, at the Proclamation Monument in Central Jakarta.
'We have witnessed a historic event in which seven parties, which represent almost two-thirds of the Indonesian people, proclaim a permanent coalition. Its main purpose is to set up permanent cooperation to safeguard Pancasila, UUD 45 [the 1945 Constitution] and the principle of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika [Unity in Diversity] to ensure that an efficient government can bring about improvement for Indonesia,' Prabowo said in his speech after all party delegates had signed the MoU.
Prabowo dubbed the group the Koalisi Merah Putih (Red and White Coalition). In a press conference after the ceremony, Prabowo said the coalition was founded on the shared aspirations and idealism of its members. He said any party withdrawing from the coalition in the future would face retribution. 'There will be sanctions [for a change of stance in the future].'
Prabowo said details of the agreement would soon be made public.
Representatives of the ruling Democratic Party, the party of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, were notably thin on the ground at the declaration, with only party executive Nachrowi Ramli, the running mate of losing candidate Fauzi Bowo in the 2012 Jakarta gubernatorial election, present.
Six other political parties sent their leaders to the ceremony; Aburizal Bakrie from the Golkar Party, Suhardiman from the Gerindra Party, Hatta Rajasa from the National Mandate Party (PAN), former House deputy speaker Anis Matta from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), former religious affairs minister Suryadharma Ali from the United Development Party (PPP) and former forestry minister MS Kaban from the Crescent Star Party (PBB).
In their speeches, each of the party leaders warned the public against 'movements to change the country's ideology, Pancasila', an apparent attack on presidential frontrunner Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo and his Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).
Jokowi had earlier been targeted by smear campaigns, with accusations that he was trying to revive the now-defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) in the country.
Jokowi himself has been accused of being a communist for writing a campaign manifesto titled Revolusi Mental (Mental Revolution).
'Beware of obvious attempts by certain groups to attack our state ideology Pancasila so that they can replace it with an ideology that is different from Pancasila. We will be on the front line in protecting Pancasila. Pancasila harga mati! [Pancasila or death],' Golkar's Aburizal said in his speech.
Aburizal later explained that the permanent coalition was also meant to serve as a tool that would enable a checks-and-balances mechanism for the next government.
The coalition was launched only one week after parties in the coalition joined forces to endorse a new law that would strip the PDI-P of its privilege of getting the coveted post of chairmanship of the House.
Many, however, believe that the Prabowo-led coalition will be short-lived. Politicians within Golkar were confident that the party could change its position in the future.
Golkar executive Zainal Bintang said Aburizal's move to join the coalition was personal in nature and would not bind the party as an organization.
'What if the KPU [General Elections Commission] later officially announces that Jokowi-JK [Jusuf Kalla ticket] is the winner? And many of us Golkar members throughout the country believe that will be the case [...] Aburizal will be a failed leader. Whether he is pledged to Prabowo is his own business, not Golkar's,' he said.
Yusril Ihza Mahendra, a prominent lawyer and founder of the PBB, said members of the coalition could abandon Prabowo if he failed to win the presidential election.
He also said that members of the coalition would bail if the presumptive administration of Jokowi offered them cabinet seats.
'The more parties that accept such offers, the sooner the coalition will break up,' Yusril said.