Is Golkar bailing on Jokowi?

JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - Golkar has been a strong supporter of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, but whether the party will stay loyal to him if it gets nothing in return is another question.

This year's political chess match is nowhere near the endgame, with political bigwigs holding closed-door meetings to determine who will run in next year's presidential election.

Golkar chairman Airlangga Hartarto, who is hoping to become Jokowi’s running mate, visited Democratic Party chief patron and former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at his house in Mega Kuningan, South Jakarta, on Tuesday afternoon.

Golkar has been a strong supporter of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, but whether the party will stay loyal to him if it gets nothing in return is another question.

In the visit, which was arranged by Airlangga, they talked about the presidential and legislative elections, raising speculation over whether the industry minister will retract support for Jokowi and team up with the opposition Democratic Party if he is not named Jokowi’s vice presidential candidate.

Golkar-Democratic Party ticket?

Democratic Party deputy secretary-general Renanda Bachtar said on Tuesday evening that a possibility of a Golkar-Democratic Party ticket was discussed in the meeting.

“Why not? If Airlangga doesn’t run with Jokowi, then what is the reason for Golkar to still endorse Jokowi?” Renanda told The Jakarta Post.

“As far as we know, Airlangga has a good relationship with Yudhoyono. They communicate very well."

The meeting follows reports that Jokowi, along with Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri, prepared at least three names for the vice presidential slot, with some sources saying that the names were non-party figures.

This could mean that the chairmen of political parties in Jokowi's coalition, namely Airlangga, United Development Party (PPP) chairman Muhammad Romahurmuziy and National Awakening Party (PKB) chairman Muhaimin Iskandar, were not shortlisted.

Airlangga told journalists that he and Yudhoyono talked about “the current political situation” in the meeting.

Golkar has long pinned hopes on Airlangga as a vice presidential candidate. The party’s confidence on securing the nomination is not without reason.

Golkar is the country’s most established political party with long-time loyalists and grass-roots supporters. It is the second-largest party in the House of Representatives with 91 seats, meaning it holds sway in legislative affairs.

The party has been trying to show its loyalty to the President – it was the first party to officially support Jokowi’s reelection bid, even before Jokowi’s own PDI-P did.

If the President does not select Airlangga as his running mate, Golkar will only receive several ministerial seats and the party might see itself short-changed.

Should Airlangga get the nod, Golkar is expected to benefit from a “coattail effect” in the legislative election next year. But if he is not on the ticket, the party risks losing a significant number of legislative seats.

Also on Tuesday, Golkar deputy secretary-general Muhammad Sarmuji said the party was preparing another strategy if plans for Airlangga did not fall into place.

“Maybe we will still support Jokowi with certain negotiations or there will be other options, which will be discussed within the party,” Sarmuji said.

Democratic Party secretary-general Hinca Panjaitan said both Yudhoyono and Airlangga had yet to make a decision regarding a coalition.

‘All things are possible’

The Democratic Party has been promoting Yudhoyono’s eldest son, Agus Harimurti, as a potential vice presidential candidate. With 61 seats in the House, the party is still looking for a coalition that would back Agus. It could either go with Gerindra (73 seats), form a third coalition with the National Mandate Party (49 seats) and Prosperous Justice Party (40 seats) or team up with Jokowi’s camp.

To endorse a pair, a party or a coalition needs a minimum of 112 seats.

Yudhoyono said the Democratic Party had no presidential candidate but they had his son as a vice presidential candidate. “We can be with Jokowi or Prabowo, or another candidate. All things are possible,” Yudhoyono said after the meeting with Airlangga.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who is also a former Golkar chairman and respected senior member in the party, paid a visit to Yudhoyono’s house on June 25.

Democratic Party's Hinca said the meeting could open up the possibility of a Democratic Party-Golkar coalition that could endorse Kalla, with Agus as his running mate.

Airlangga quashed the idea on June 28, saying that Golkar backed Jokowi.

With 30 days left before the deadline for parties to register their tickets, anything can happen, Yudhoyono said. “Politics can be and are dynamic. There’s a possibility that everything will culminate on Aug. 9 and 10,” he said.

Yudhoyono said the Democratic Party would wait for Jokowi and Prabowo to declare their candidacy and running mates first and even prepare for a scenario in which the rival camps register at the General Elections Commission (KPU) a day before the deadline.

“But the Democrats are ready, we have mapped it all out and we have thought of several scenarios and [we are ready] for chaos or an emergency,” he said Tuesday.

“On Aug. 9 or 10, we will select our best option."


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