The Thinker: Prabowo-Jokowi?

By : Jakarta Globe | on 2:00 AM May 29, 2013
Category : Opinion, Columns

No Indonesian political figure has a higher presidential electability rating than Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto. In a survey conducted in April by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Jokowi and Prabowo topped all the lists.

Jokowi would get 35.1 percent and Prabowo 16.3 percent if the elections were contested by seven candidates and Jokowi would get 40.9 percent against Prabowo’s 19.3 percent if four candidates were to take part.

But that’s just what pollsters say. Politics is full of probabilities. Many analysts have over time been proven wrong in their predictions and even the most unexpected sometimes becomes reality. Jokowi won the gubernatorial elections in Jakarta, even though incumbent Fauzi Bowo had the backing of political heavyweights and plenty of funds.

Despite an ongoing campaign against him, Prabowo’s popularity still ranks higher than that of most presidential candidates. For the common people, Prabowo seems to be an ideal choice when compared with his rivals, who barely manage to get the support of 10 percent.

But Jokowi and Prabowo can’t become presidential candidates yet. Jokowi doesn’t want to be nominated. Besides, his party boss Megawati Sukarnoputri, chairwoman of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), still wants to run for president herself.

Prabowo, although his Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) nominated him as a presidential candidate, still needs to meet the threshold requirement of 20 percent of seats in parliament or 25 percent of the national vote. He may have to forge a coalition with other political parties, but Gerindra is trying hard to expand its voter base.

Only the ruling Democratic Party, the Golkar Party and the PDI-P would likely be able to nominate presidential candidates without forming a coalition. The Democrats have no candidate for the moment but look forward to a party convention soon to name one. That could be Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan.

[quote author=]If Megawati is smart, she doesn’t run — as she would surely lose. She would be better off as a kingmaker.[/quote]

Golkar is firm with Aburizal Bakrie as its presidential candidate while the PDI-P sticks to its decision that only Megawati can run.

But in politics, nothing is certain. Who knows what would happen if Jokowi and Prabowo indeed get the nomination. If Megawati is smart, she doesn’t run — as she would surely lose. She would be better off as a kingmaker and nominate Jokowi as the PDI-P’s candidate for president. Or forge a coalition once again with Gerindra to nominate Prabowo. Or perhaps even propose a Prabowo-Jokowi ticket. As for the Democrats, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono surely can be a kingmaker, too. He knows no Democrat can match Prabowo’s popularity and might as well initiate a Democratic Party-Gerindra coalition.

Both Jokowi and Prabowo are nationalists who support the common people. Jokowi wants to promote education, health, housing and welfare while Prabowo sides primarily with the rural community, fishermen, farmers and cooperatives. Many believe that Prabowo represents a new hope in a country where corruption is rampant and present in all institutions and levels of administration.

Political analyst Indria Samego has said that Prabowo has a better chance to become a presidential candidate than other former military figures such as Sutiyoso, Wiranto, Endriartono Sutarto or even Yudhoyono’s in brother-in-law Pramono Edhie Wibowo. He also said that the perception of Prabowo as a strong leader boosts his chances.

There is no perfect president. Indonesia has since independence been led by Sukarno, Suharto, B.J. Habibie, Abdurrahman Wahid, Megawati Sukarnoputri and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Each has had pluses and minuses. However, their proven achievements must be preserved and their mistakes must never be repeated.

Whoever wins the presidency in 2014, the interests of the people — justice, welfare, self-sufficiency and economic sovereignty — must become the top priority.

Yanto Soegiarto is the managing editor of Globe Asia, a sister publication of the Jakarta Globe.

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