Jakarta. Prabowo Subianto, chairman of the Great Indonesia Movement Party, or Gerindra, finally met with Democratic Party chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Tuesday (24/07) to discuss a possible coalition in next year's presidential election.
The two leaders were due to meet last week, but Yudhoyono was admitted to hospital for exhaustion.
"We discussed in depth the possibility of a coalition between the Democrats, Gerindra and other parties. I must say the way to build this coalition is wide open," Yudhoyono told reporters at his home after the meeting in South Jakarta, as reported by BeritaSatu.
Although Gerindra has endorsed Prabowo as its presidential candidate for next year's election, he has yet to obtain endorsements from undecided parties – the National Mandate Party (PAN), Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and Democratic Party – to meet the 20 percent threshold of seats in the House of Representatives.
Except these three, all other parties have endorsed President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo as their presidential candidate.
While the Democratic Party has never officially endorsed Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, the former president's eldest son, it is widely known that Yudhoyono has been pushing Agus onto the national political stage. Agus resigned from the Indonesian Military (TNI) in 2016 to participate in the Jakarta gubernatorial election, which saw him being eliminated in the first round.
"SBY has never asked for AHY to be my vice presidential candidate… But if his name appears [on the list], I have to say, 'why not?'" Prabowo said, referring to the father and son by their initials.
Yudhoyono said he and Prabowo agreed to prevent the use of identity politics and campaigns based on ethnicity and religious affiliation, which he said had dominated recent elections.
"We agreed to try and contribute to a truly peaceful, honest and fair election," he said after his two-hour private meeting with Prabowo.
PKS chairman Tifatul Sembiring meanwhile said Prabowo's vice presidential running mate should be from his centrist Islamic party.
"Of course, it's only logical as we are the most faithful [to Gerindra]… Gerindra and the PKS have long been in coalition… We expect a loyal friend," Tifatul said.
During the 2014 presidential election, the PKS endorsed Prabowo as presidential candidate and joined Gerindra's so-called Red-White Coalition (KMP) along with PAN and the United Development Party (PPP), which also endorsed the retired Army general. PAN and the PPP later pledged their support for President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration, leaving only the PKS and Gerindra in the opposing coalition.
Prabowo has been meeting with several prominent leaders in a row over the past two weeks, including Said Aqil Siroj, chairman of Indonesia's largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, Coordinating Human Development and Cultural Affairs Minister Puan Maharani, who is a high-ranking Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician, and PAN chairman Zulkifli Hasan.
Registration for the presidential election, scheduled for April 17 next year, will take place on Aug. 4-10.