The Jakarta Post
Members of the coalition endorsing the President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Ma’ruf Amin ticket shrugged off the call on Muslim voters to shun presidential candidates and political parties that supported former Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama at a rally on Sunday, organized by a group calling itself the 212 Rally Alumni.
The call was a strong reference to Jokowi, who led Jakarta together with Ahok between 2012 and 2014, as well as most parties in the Jokowi coalition. Ahok, Jakarta’s first ethnic Chinese and second Christian governor, was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for blasphemy following a series of rallies in 2016 organized by the 212 movement to demand his prosecution.
Billed as a “reunion”, the rally, attended by hundreds of thousands of marchers, quickly turned into a political arena for opposition leaders and outspoken critics of the Jokowi administration.
Komarudin Watubun, chairman of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), said actions against a nationalist party in Indonesia were not unusual. He was of the opinion that the PDI-P would not be affected much because eventually the hubbub would die down.
“I think we also wouldn’t need to anticipate problems from this because our voters are also Muslims. They are rational and mature Muslims. They are used to facing issues like this,” he said in Jakarta on Monday.
He believed that a straightforward call like this would backfire on presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto’s supporting parties because such aggressiveness could discourage prospective voters.
“After all, the call was conveyed to people who were against the PDI-P from the beginning. So, it would not affect our voters as each party has its own base,” he said.
Prabowo’s coalition includes the Gerindra Party, Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), National Mandate Party (PAN) and Democratic Party.
NasDem Party secretary-general Johnny G. Plate said the call was predictable given that the 212 movement’s leaders were also opposition leaders. “Of course there could be an electoral impact for us but it would not be significant enough to affect Jokowi’s electoral base,” he said.
Jazilul Fawaid, executive of the National Awakening Party (PKB), another member of the Jokowi coalition, suspected a potential violation of the Elections Law during the rally.
“For me, reunions are usual; people come together. However, reunions do not usually involve a political agenda,” he said without elaborating on the details.
After the rally, politicians with the Prabowo coalition expressed their gratitude because the rally had run smoothly and peacefully. Prabowo’s running mate, Sandiaga Uno, who was in Magelang, Central Java, at the time of the rally, said he believed the rally would boost Jakarta’s economic growth.
PAN chairman Zulkifli Hasan, who is also the People’s Consultative Assembly speaker, said the rally was proof that Indonesian Muslims were tolerant, as evidenced by the peaceful spectacle. “No one was harmed and no building was destroyed,” he said on his Instagram account.
During the rally, a video featuring leader Rizieq Shihab, who is residing in Saudi Arabia, was shown. He said it was haram (forbidden) to vote for presidential and legislative candidates backed by Ahok’s supporting parties, based on edicts issued by religious leaders. The Islam Defenders Front also endorsed the anti-Jokowi movement, bearing the moniker#2019GantiPresiden ( 2019ChangePresident ).
A political communication expert from Paramadina University, Hendri Satrio, said in consideration of Ahok’s defeat in the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election to Anies Baswedan, the call for Muslim voters should be taken into account by Jokowi’s coalition. “The problem is the non 212 who came to the reunion,” he said.
He believed this issue would erode gradually as the election date is still four months away. “This will mean Prabowo will be on the rise for a while, but it will not mess Jokowi up,” he added. (ggq)
This article was originally published in The Jakarta Post's print edition on Dec. 4, 2018, with the title "Jokowi coalition remains confident despite 212 rally".