JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network): The Gerindra Party has strongly signalled its intent to team up with the National Awakening Party (PKB) in a mutually beneficial coalition ahead of the 2024 elections, although no formal deal has been made so far.
After previously noncommittal gestures, Gerindra elites met with their PKB counterparts in Jakarta last Thursday (June 30) to discuss ways to forge a collaboration for the 2024 general election. None of the two party chairs attended the meeting.
Gerindra central executive board head Sufmi Dasco Ahmad said on Saturday that Gerindra and the PKB had agreed “to cooperate or to form a coalition for the 2024 elections", downplaying doubts from analysts who questioned the seriousness of the former in building the alliance.
While Gerindra members are expected to endorse party chair Prabowo Subianto (pic) as their presidential candidate during their national leadership meeting later this month, the party seems to be hanging back from commenting about the possibility of having Muhaimin on Prabowo's ticket.
"[We] will ask Prabowo about his willingness to be nominated as a presidential candidate from Gerindra in the meeting at the end of July. Then, a later forum will determine who will be his vice presidential candidate," Dasco said in a release on Saturday.
Talks of a coalition between Gerindra and the PKB first came to the surface in late June, when the PKB claimed that it had formed an alliance with the third-largest party and nominated its leader Muhaimin Iskandar and Prabowo as vice-presidential and presidential candidates, respectively, for the 2024 race.
This came after Muhaimin visited Prabowo at his residence in South Jakarta on June 19.
Gerindra politicians, including Dasco and Prabowo, at the time said Gerindra had agreed to “cooperate” with the PKB for the next general election, but stopped short of confirming or denying an alliance with the Muslim-based party outright.
This led analysts to speculate that a Gerindra-PKB coalition was unlikely, particularly since Gerindra seemed to still be looking for a more suitable running mate than Muhaimin who would increase Prabowo's chance of winning the presidential election.
Recent public opinion polls have put Prabowo either in first or second place in terms of electability, while Muhaimin ranks far below him.
Gerindra currently holds around 13 per cent of seats at the House of Representatives – still below the current electoral threshold of 20 per cent to nominate a presidential candidate.
If Gerindra and the PKB form an alliance, they will make up some 23 per cent of seats – enough to nominate a candidate.
Senior PKB politician Jazilul Fawaid said the new coalition would be named the Great Indonesia Awakening Coalition, adding that the two parties were aiming for the coalition to win the 2024 elections.
The PKB and Gerindra were on opposite sides of the 2019 presidential election.
While Gerindra and Prabowo lost the election to President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo, the PKB, having backed Jokowi in his reelection bid, came out on the winning end.
Gerindra has been part of the pro-government coalition since late 2019 after Jokowi named Prabowo his defence minister.
Over the past year, Gerindra and the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) have hinted at the possibility of pairing Prabowo and the PDI-P’s Puan Maharani, whose rock-bottom electability ratings often drag down their combined figure.
Experts previously said that a coalition with the PKB could break up Gerindra’s relationship with the PDI-P, the only party that can nominate a presidential candidate without forming a coalition.
PDI-P politician Djarot Saiful Hidayat said the party was not worried by the possible formation of a Gerindra-PKB coalition.
“[If] Gerindra and PKB will be working together, that’s fine, since they have to be harmonious and good [for each other]. Gerindra and the PKB are both supporters of Jokowi, aren’t they?” Djarot said on Sunday, as quoted by tribunnews.com.