SP/Carlos Paath, Markus Junianto Sihaloho & Ronna Nirmala
Former President Megawati Sukarnoputri could pair with Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo to challenge Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie, who may win President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s backing in a potential clash of political heavyweights for the presidency in 2014, analysts said on Sunday.
Such political coalitions, however, would sideline Prabowo Subianto, founder of the Greater Indonesian Movement Party (Gerindra) and front-runner in the race as shown by multiple surveys, because he would likely fail to garner the support needed to run.
According to the law on presidential elections, a candidate must secure support from a party or a coalition of parties that garner a minimum of 20 percent of votes during the legislative election.
“I think it’s a big possibility that Megawati will run with Jokowi if the party can garner close to 20 percent of votes,” said Fachry Ali, a political expert from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), referring to the popular nickname of the newly elected Jakarta governor.
Megawati, the chairwoman of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), has yet to determine whether she will run for presidency. Fachry said that while Joko would win if he ran as the presidential candidate, Megawati ultimately has the power to determine who will represent PDI-P, the country’s third-largest party based on the 2009 legislative elections, when it won 14 percent of votes.
“It looks like Megawati still wants to run. If she runs with Jokowi, the pair has a big chance to win because of the Jokowi factor. He is now the candidate with the highest electability,” he said.
The pair would be a formidable challenge to whichever candidates Yudhoyono decides to support, Fachry said, but added that the president was still the country’s most influential political figure.
Aburizal has tried to persuade Yudhoyono to form a coalition between the country’s two biggest political forces.
Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party won the 2009 legislative elections with more than 20 percent of votes nationally, while Golkar came in second with 14.5 percent.
Priyo Budi Santoso, one of Golkar’s deputy chairmen and a close aide to Aburizal, said on Saturday that Golkar’s vice presidential nominee, to be determine next year, would be a Javanese and a member of Yudhoyono’s inner circle, if not a family member.
Aburizal said on Saturday that he would pick a popular and capable person to run alongside in 2014.
With Yudhoyono repeatedly insisting that his family members, such as his sons and wife, would not run in 2014, many have speculated that Gen. Pramono Edhie Wibowo, the Army’s chief of staff, would be tapped as Aburizal’s running mate.
“It’s a good fit if Aburizal can team up with Pramono. Aburizal is non-Javanese while Pramono is a Javanese,” Fachry said.
Another possibility could see Yudhoyono pair Pramono with Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa, who is the president’s in-law. But analysts say that combination might be politically impossible due to the duo’s shared non-Javanese provenance.
“The most politically logical pair is a combination of Javanese and non-Javanese candidates,” said Aleksius Jemadu, dean of Pelita Harapan’s School of Social and Political Sciences.
In any scenario, Prabowo appears to draw the short straw, with his political hopes pinned on garnering the support of the Democratic Party or PDI-P, each of which has sent signals that an alliance is not forthcoming.
Some said Megawati was angered after Prabowo was quick to claim credit for the victory of Joko and Basuki Tjahaja Purnama in the Jakarta gubernatorial election. She afterward decided not to forge a partnership with Gerindra in the West Java gubernatorial election, though Prabowo made several attempts to force the pairing.