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Jakarta Post

We could fight together, SBY tells Jokowi

  • Nurul Fitri Ramadhani and Margareth S. Aritonang

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, March 10, 2018   /   04:45 pm
We could fight together, SBY tells Jokowi Former president and Democratic Party chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. (Antara/Akbar Nugroho Gumay)

Former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has told his successor, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, that they could form an alliance ahead of the 2019 presidential election, but only if the "framework" of the alliance was right. 

In a sign of support for Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party, Jokowi attended the party’s national meeting in Jakarta on Saturday. It was Jokowi’s second appearance at one of the party’s high-level meeting since 2015, when Jokowi opened its fourth national congress in Surabaya, East Java.  

In his opening speech, Yudhoyono gave his strongest signal yet that he is ready to back Jokowi’s re-election bid.

“If God wills it, it is very possible for the Democrats to fight together with you, Mr. President. As you can see from my experience in 2004 and 2009, a collective struggle, an alliance [of parties] could only succeed and triumph if the framework of the alliance is right,” he told the meeting, which was held at the Sentul International Convention Center in Bogor, West Java, and attended by more than 11,000 party cadres from across the country.   

The Democratic Party is among the few political parties that have yet to decide whether to join Jokowi’s coalition or form its own.

The party has been seen to be moving closer to joining Jokowi’s coalition, following a series of meetings between Yudhoyono and Jokowi, as well as several visits by Agus Harimurti, Yudhoyono’s eldest son, to the State Palace.

However, the party has also toyed with the idea of creating a third axis offering an alternative candidate to the two presumed contenders: Jokowi and his old rival, Prabowo Subianto. Its officials have intensified lobbying with the executives of two Muslim-based parties: the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the National Awakening Party (PKB).

But despite the party’s attempt to create a third axis, Yudhoyono has refused to burn bridges with Jokowi, wishing him great success as national leader.  

“This is your second time [attending a Democrat's event]. You’re not only the leader of Indonesia, but also the leader of all of us,” Yudhoyono said, receiving a standing applause from the audience.

“At the end of my speech, I want to express my hope to the President. I wish that you can complete you duties and responsibilities until the end of your serving time. And I hope in the 2019 presidential race, you will succeed as you wish.”

In his speech, Jokowi compared himself to his predecessor, saying that there was little difference between the two of them. “I am a democrat, while Pak SBY is a chairman of the Democratic Party. So, little difference,” he said.

While his attendance at the event could be perceived of as sign of being open to forging a coalition with Yudhoyono, the President stopped short of saying that he accepted the former's coalition offer.

It appears that the two political leaders have yet to agree on the terms of the alliance. The Democratic Party may have insisted on Agus being Jokowi’s running mate or being granted a senior position in the next Cabinet. But Jokowi, who has already secured the support of five political parties, is not in a position to easily agree to such terms.

Jokowi, who has enough support to contend in the election without the Democratic Party's backing, spent the rest of his speech focusing on the problem of fake news. 

Jokowi said the country was struggling to fight against rampant fake news on social media, which he said had weakened democracy. 

“Democracy must be followed by good and efficient governance. It must inspire innovation and empower policies that will push the country to reduce poverty and uphold social justice, and enable it to compete in the global community,” Jokowi told his audience.

“I want to ask the Democratic Party, as a family, to realize this together,” he said. (ahw)