With the period to register as presidential candidate getting close, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s main potential competitor, Prabowo Subianto, has been meeting with prominent religious leaders and politicians.
The retired army general and chairman of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) has recently met with Said Aqil Siroj, chairman of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Coordinating Human Development and Cultural Affairs Minister Puan Maharani, who is also a top Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician, National Mandate Party (PAN) chairman Zulkifli Hasan and former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who leads the Democratic Party.
Candidates in the 2019 presidential election will be registering between Aug. 4 and Aug. 10.
“I think there is confusion … because it is close to injury time, but he is still doing political lobbying … There could be a political deadlock,” said Jerry Massie of the Indonesian Public Institute (IPI), as quoted by BeritaSatu.com.
While Jokowi has secured support from six parties to meet the 20 percent of seats at the House of Representatives threshold to compete in the election, Prabowo has yet to be endorsed by other parties aside from his own Gerindra.
Jokowi is supported by PDI-P, the Golkar Party, the United Development Party (PPP), the People’s Conscience Party (Hanura), the National Democratic Party (Nasdem) and two new players: the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) and the United Indonesia Party (Perindo).
PAN, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the Democratic Party remain undecided.
The following four leaders met with the Grindra chairman last week.
Said Aqil Siroj
Prabowo met with Said Siroj on Monday (16/07) at NU headquarters in Central Jakarta.
After the meeting, Prabowo said his visit was a silahturahmi (friendship) meeting following Idul Fitri, during which he also sought consultation regarding his potential running mate for the upcoming election.
“I think that every policy, every important decision, should be consulted with NU,” Prabowo told reporters.
NU has some 40 million members of various professions and backgrounds.
“As we have a big follower-ship, his [Prabowo’s] choice must at least not be contrary to Muslim-majority [preferences].”
Said said he urged Prabowo not use religion as a tool to gain political support.
“Whatever the reason, religion is not allowed to be a political tool,” he said.
According to the latest survey by Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC), Said ranks third as Jokowi’s most suitable vice presidential candidate, after former Constitutional Court chief justice Mahfud MD and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani.
On Tuesday, the Gerindra chairman met with Puan Maharani. The minister is the daughter of PDI-P chairwoman, former President Megawati Sukarnoputri.
“I just met with Ms. Puan, it was a friendly meeting. I feel close with the family after all. Friendship is friendship, if we take different political decision, it’s okay, we’ll remain friends,” Prabowo told reporters after the meeting.
Probowo was Megawati’s running mate during the 2009 presidential election, which was won by Yudhoyono.
PDI-P is the main ruling party. Gerindra politicians have been constantly criticizing the government for the country’s expanding debt, inflation and closer ties with China.
“The conversation ranged from mild to heavy [issues], we also talked about names [presidential and vice presidential candidates]. Jokowi and Prabowo are different, and I am between them,” Puan told reporters on Wednesday.
According to a survey released by the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) on Thursday, Prabowo would be the most suitable vice president for Jokowi in next year’s election.
After meeting Puan, Prabowo met with Zulkifli Hasan.
According to Zulkifli, the meeting was related to both presidential and legislative candidates who will run in the elections next year.
Zulkifli, who is also speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), has been endorsed by PAN as Prabowo’s vice presidential candidate.
Prabowo’s coalition with PKS and PAN, however, is still not fixed, as each of the parties has its own vice presidential candidate.
“The candidate should be approved [by all parties]. If there is only agreement without support, it is impossible to win the presidential election,” said Ahmad Patria, chairman of Gerindra’s central executive board.
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Prabowo was scheduled to visit Yudhoyono at his house, but the meeting was canceled as the former president was rushed to a hospital on Tuesday.
Prabowo then visited Yudhoyono at the hospital, after which he told reporters it was “a familial visit” and that they “may talk more seriously next week.”
The meeting has been rescheduled for July 24.
Yudhoyono has been trying to get his first son, Agus Harimurti, into the national political scene.
In early March, PDI-P gave signals it was joining forces with the Democratic Party, following several meetings between Agus and Jokowi’s sons, but there was eventually no deal. On May, Agus started meeting Gerindra members instead, including Jakarta Deputy Governor Sandiaga Uno.
“We will continue to maintain good communication between the Democratic Party and Gerindra, and with other political parties. Hopefully, in the future, there will be more productive discussions,” Agus said after Prabowo’s visit.