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Jakarta Post

View point: When Jokowi is much more trusted than Megawati in leading PDI-P

  • Kornelius Purba

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sun, March 29, 2015   /  07:27 am

Her inner-circle supporters quickly questioned the motive of pollster Lembaga Survei Poltracking Indonesia after it announced its findings last Sunday that public trust in Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri had drastically declined. Her daughter, Puan Maharani, and son, Prananda Prabowo, seemed even worse in the eyes of the public.

Hanta Yuda, the executive of the polling company, said the PDI-P should speed up leadership regeneration, since the public wanted to see new leaders.

The PDI-P will hold its congress next month in Bali. Only a miracle could change the fact that Megawati, the country'€™s fifth president, will be unanimously reelected for another five-year term.

Citing the survey'€™s results, Hanta said President Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo was more desirable than Megawati as future PDI-P party leader, a party based on the ideology of her father, first president Sukarno.

The survey merely confirmed public sentiment that Megawati has lost credibility as party boss and that Jokowi is perceived as one of its most promising leaders.

There are a couple key reasons for the public'€™s growing impatience with Megawati and her family. For starters, many PDI-P supporters, even Megawati'€™s die-hard followers, felt angered and disappointed by her emotional defense of National Police chief candidate Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan. She was reportedly outraged with Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) leaders when they named her former adjutant as a graft suspect in January. The media reported that she tried to force President Jokowi to install Budi as the new police chief, despite public protests. Speculations about her motives read like screenplays for soap operas.

The Indonesian public is upset that the political elites systematically destroyed the KPK. And in relation to that it is very difficult for Megawati and her party to cover up their displeasure with Indonesia'€™s most trusted state institution. The party is ranked number one when it comes to the number of politicians jailed for graft.

Until last week, the party was still eager to foil Jokowi'€™s attempt to name National Police deputy chief Comr. Badrodin Haiti the new police chief after he withdrew Budi'€™s nomination. The childish attitude of the politicians is irritating. From time to time they indicate that they will abandon Jokowi, who would be left standing alone without control over any of the country'€™s political parties.

Indonesians also felt frustrated because the PDI-P often acted in opposition to Jokowi'€™s plans, despite the fact that the PDI-P leads the ruling Great Indonesia Coalition. PDI-P politicians in the House of Representatives seem eager to disrupt the government'€™s activities. The opposing Red-and-White Coalition often shows greater understanding '€” and perhaps even greater support '€” for governmental policies than the PDI-P.

Megawati apparently cannot accept that she does not control Jokowi and such stubbornness has become a great burden on his administration. Her own daughter, Puan, has made no visible contribution, despite being awarded the post of Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister.

It was Megawati herself who nominated Jokowi as the party'€™s presidential candidate in the July election. But I suspect her decision was not based on a sincere desire to support the best available candidate to become Indonesia'€™s seventh president. She was simply making a compromise and attempting to accept the bitter reality that very few Indonesians wanted her to return to the State Palace.

Megawati, who ruled the country from 2001 to 2004, had ambitions to run in the 2014 presidential race, even though Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had already defeated her twice in the 2004 and 2009 presidential elections.      

The PDI-P now needs Jokowi more than the President needs Megawati. The former Jakarta governor and Surakarta mayor has, thus far, been much luckier than his predecessor. During Yudhoyono'€™s 10-year term, he was often betrayed and cheated by his own coalition members in the Golkar Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS). They gained lucrative Cabinet positions but often attacked Yudhoyono'€™s government through the legislature.

Having accomplished next to nothing, the opposing Red-and-White Coalition is now collapsing. Two of the major opposition parties, Golkar, the second largest party after the PDI-P, and the United Development Party (PPP), are deeply divided, as is the National Mandate Party (PAN), though on a smaller scale. It is beginning to seem as though the only solid opposition parties remaining are Gerindra and PKS. The leader of the opposition, the loser of the July presidential election, Prabowo Subianto, evidently realizes that being too harsh with Jokowi will negatively affect his camp.

Megawati will remain unchallenged in the upcoming PDI-P congress. But Puan will likely face bitter rejection as the next party chief, given her inability to perform both as party executive and as a minister, which would leave her accomplishments amounting to nothing more than being Megawati'€™s daughter.

If Megawati wants the party to maintain relevance with the times and its current supporters, she has little choice but to accommodate Jokowi in the party. It will not be easy for her to criticize the government because her motives would be all too evident. Hopefully she will be smart enough to offer Jokowi a position on the party'€™s new executive board. It will boost the party'€™s credibility while still allowing her to rein queen of the PDI-P.

Megawati can no longer act as the party'€™s virtual dictator. She may be credited for the party'€™s massive amount of support but she has done little to transform the party into a modern democratic institution. For the sake of her own interests, and the interests of her family, Megawati should share her power in the PDI-P with President Jokowi. She increasingly has less and less room for her dictatorial political maneuvers. Something has got to give.

The writer is the senior managing editor at The Jakarta Post.

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