As things stand, President Joko Widodo’s huge coalition of six political parties should make his path to re-election next year very smooth, barring any extraordinary surprises.
But with coalitions and rivalries still forming behind the scenes leading up to the August 10 registration deadline for presidential/VP candidates, it looks like Jokowi won’t be able to count on the Democratic Party, led by predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), to back him next year.
In a candid press conference yesterday, SBY revealed that Jokowi had asked him for the Democrats to join his coalition on five occasions over the past year. SBY said that, while he respects Jokowi, he has to close the door on any possibility of the Democrats joining the president’s coalition due to his frosty relationship with Jokowi’s party’s leader, PDI-P Chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri.
“There’s still distance, there’s still an obstacle there,” SBY told the press, as quoted by Kompas.
“I have to be honest, [our relationship] has not been mended.”
Megawati and SBY had a widely publicized falling out during the 2004 presidential election, when Megawati was running for her second term as president. During Megawati’s presidency, SBY served as her coordinating minister for political, legal, and security affairs. Their relationship reportedly became irreparable after SBY stepped down from his post before being nominated for the presidency in 2004, which he won.
PDI-P Secretary General Hasto Kristiyanto rebuffed SBY’s claims, saying that the Democrats not joining Jokowi’s coalition has nothing to do with Megawati. Instead, he said the coalition did not want to accept SBY’s condition to have his son, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, be Jokowi’s running mate next year.
Despite closing the door on joining Jokowi’s coalition, SBY hinted that there’s still a possibility of the Democrats joining an opposition coalition led by Prabowo Subianto, chairman of the Gerindra Party and likely Jokowi’s only challenger in the 2019 election.
The Democrats were the victors of the 2009 legislative election. But, due to SBY being unable to run for a third presidential term and numerous high profile graft cases against the party’s cadres, the Democrats were only able to obtain around 10% of the national vote in 2014 — half of its achievement five years prior. The party chose to be neutral in 2014 and it could remain so for 2019, but it’s looking increasingly likely that it will join the opposition coalition based on SBY’s latest statement.