Megawati signals joining opposition, says safeguarding democracy important


Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle Chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri delivers a speech during the party's 51st anniversary in Jakarta on Jan 10, 2024. - Antara

JAKARTA: Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) matriarch Megawati Soekarnoputri has given her clearest signal to date that the party may take up an opposition role toward the incoming government of president-elect Prabowo Subianto, stressing that democracy requires checks and balances.

Speaking before thousands of PDI-P cadres during the opening ceremony of the party’s National Working Meeting (Rakernas) in Jakarta on Friday (May 24), Megawati said the cadres should be prepared to step out of the “comfort zone” to safeguard democracy.

“In dealing with future politics, as a party that has a long history, we still emphasise the importance of checks and balances; that democracy requires [both],” Megawati said in her first-ever public speech after February’s general election that saw the defeat of the party’s presidential nominee, Ganjar Pranowo.

Ganjar Pranowo, 55, is the former governor of Central Java (2013-2023), and before that, a lawmaker (2004-2013) for the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). He has a postgraduate degree in political science from the University of Indonesia and is an alumnus of Gadjah Mada University’s (UGM) Faculty of Law.

“However, we do not deny that politics urges us to gain power. However, the way we gain power is what differentiates us from the others,” she stressed.

Ganjar lost to president-elect Prabowo Subianto by a wide margin after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, backed by the PDI-P for almost a decade, tacitly campaigned for Prabowo who ended up running alongside Jokowi’s eldest son Gibran Rakabuming Raka.

The PDI-P, however, scored a historic hat trick in the legislative elections by winning the most votes three times in a row, with 16.89 per cent of the total vote in the latest legislative election last February.

The daughter of the country’s first President Sukarno further reflected the country’s worrying state of democracy as she expressed her concern over the “widespread, systematic and structured” fraud tainting the February election, calling it the “worst election” in the country’s history.

“I'm saddened because I was president when the country’s first direct election took place. It was responsible and successful. Why is it that now the direct election has become grey and has been engineered?” Megawati asked.

She also criticised how the military and police have been brought back into practical politics, referring to the alleged mobilisation of the state apparatus to win the institutions during February’s presidential election.

The PDI-P kicked off on Friday its three-day Rakernas in Jakarta, where the party will discuss strategic issues, including evaluations of its performance in February’s general election and strategies for the upcoming November regional elections.

The party is also expected on the final day of the Rakernas to announce its political stance toward the incoming government.

Megawati said she would first hear the opinions of about 4,000 PDI-P members who attended the meeting.

“The party must listen to the voices of the grassroots, from those who scream to those who speak softly. It must continue to fight to institutionalise a healthy democracy. This is part of our priority in this fifth National Working Meeting,” she emphasised.

Since his victory, Prabowo has been reaching out to parties from rival camps, including the PDI-P, as he seeks to form a grand coalition to support his government, an outcome that would accelerate his legislative agenda.

The PDI-P itself is projected to have the biggest share of seats in the House of Representatives after winning the largest number of nationwide votes in the February legislative election.

Unsuccessful PDI-P presidential candidate Ganjar previously announced that he would take up the role of opposition to the next administration.

“I hereby declare first that I will not join [the next] government. But I have respect for [our] government, so we will carry out control [supervision] properly,” Ganjar said, as broadcast by Kompas TV.

“Politics does not have to be ruthless. Everyone is equally respectful. There is no need to scoff at each other. The most appropriate way to [criticize] is through the legislature,” he added.

Asked whether Ganjar’s position was indicative of the party’s future direction, PDI-P secretary-general Hasto Kristiyanto said: “Yes, of course [it reflects the party’s position] – because this is the attitude of statesmanship.”

Hasto reiterated the party’s commitment to serving the nation, noting that “the scope for service is very broad, for example, ensuring the rule of law is upheld and meritocracy is strengthened and institutionalised.” - The Jakarta Post/ANN

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Indonesia , Megawati , opposition

   

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