Megawati’s party stays mum on supporting incoming Indonesian President Prabowo

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle’s position should be decided at the party’s five-yearly congress, slated for 2025. - Reuters

JAKARTA: The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) stayed silent on whether it will support the incoming administration of Prabowo Subianto at the close of its annual leadership meeting on May 26, but tacit remarks from its chief indicated that it will opt to be in the opposition.

PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri said that the party’s position should be decided at the party’s five-yearly congress, which is slated for 2025.

The party won the most seats in the February legislative election – an estimated 110 out of 580 seats – but its presidential candidate Ganjar Pranowo lost to Prabowo from the rival Gerindra Party. Prabowo will take office in October.

Megawati said that much of the discussions during the leadership meeting were about preparations for the pilkada, the upcoming elections of the leaders of the more than 500 cities and regencies and 37 provinces, to be held on Nov 27.

“Over breakfast this morning, I read a newspaper article that reported PDI-P will decide a political position. Hold it right there. Let’s do ‘some rounds of plays’ first,” Megawati said in her speech, referring to political dealings that typically happen ahead of the pilkada.

Political observers say a party needs to coalesce with other parties with different strongholds to form joint tickets to win cities or provinces in the pilkada, and many of those parties are in or have pledged to join the ruling coalition supporting the next administration at the national level.

It would be awkward if a party now proclaims it is an opposition, and then later for the pilkada, it discusses possible tie-ups with other political parties that are part of the ruling coalition, said Mr Yunarto Wijaya of Jakarta-based think-tank Charta Politika.

During her one-hour speech on May 26, Megawati promptly added that party members should work the ground ahead of the pilkada. “Court the voters, speak to the people. Don’t be laid-back,” said Megawati.

As she kept PDI-P’s political stance to herself for now, she did provide a hint by saying that “the grassroots are aware of PDI-P’s DNA; we are democracy fighters”.

“We have fighters’ characters that are marked with the fire of struggle, with an eternally burning flame, even though we are being pressured and besieged. The key is to walk hand in hand with the people. We have forged a bond (with the people),” she said.

In the same speech, she slammed the 2024 General Election, saying that it was not held in a fair and honest manner as police and state prosecutors were allegedly mobilised for voter interference.

She also accused the national elections commission and the authorities of ignoring complaints on accusations that were later supported by the commission’s oversight body.

Before Megawati’s speech, her daughter, Dr Puan Maharani, 50, the incumbent Parliament Speaker who is a member of the PDI-P national leadership board, highlighted a list of decisions from the party’s annual meetings.

They include a request that Megawati, 77, remains as chairwoman for the 2025 to 2030 term and that she would decide PDI-P’s political position with regard to the next administration in the next party congress.

The party leaders’ other decisions include: PDI-P’s MPs will be instructed to urge the government to review the recent increase in university tuition fees, which has drawn widespread protests in campuses in Indonesia; MPs should also encourage efforts in Parliament to create legislation that strengthens political parties; the party will push for equal treatment among parties that are in the ruling coalition and those in the opposition; the party will also promote the importance of checks and balances to increase the quality of democracy in the country. No further details were given.

Prabowo’s presidential ticket was backed by four parties – his own Gerindra, Golkar, the Democratic Party and the National Mandate Party – that are estimated to command 280 of the 580 seats, or 48.27 per cent, in the 2024 to 2029 Parliament. The national elections commission is still calculating the parties’ seat allocations based on election votes.

The Nasdem Party and the National Awakening Party, which backed Anies Baswedan, Prabowo’s closest rival in the 2024 presidential polls, have pledged to join the Prabowo ruling coalition. These two are set to win 137 seats – numbers that would give the coalition a clear parliamentary majority of 71.9 per cent.

This leaves two parties remaining: PDI-P, with an estimated 110 seats, and the smaller Prosperous Justice Party, which is considering adding its estimated 53 seats to the ruling coalition.

Political researcher Wasisto Raharjo said there must be an opposition political party to ensure that government policies and programmes run in line with the people’s aspirations. The opposition must also make sure that Bills are deliberated thoroughly and involve adequate public participation.

“The passing of a number of Bills opposed by the public during the current administration should be avoided in the future,” Wasisto said, referring to Bills that were controversially passed into law, such as the amendment of the country’s anti-graft agency that has made the agency lose teeth in fighting corruption. He said this was due to a lack of checks and balances. - The Straits Times/ANN

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Indonesia , Megawati , Prabowo , PDI-P


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