Gerindra and Democrats declare reconciliation effort “unconditional”

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Jansen Sitindaon. (photo: tagar.id)

IO, Jakarta – The current political climate has become very interesting. The considerable period of time that has passed since the General Election Commission (KPU) confirmed Joko Widodo as President has made room for rival parties in the 2019 elections to work together. The term “reconciliation” has seen a sudden spike after Gerindra Party Chairman Prabowo Subianto and his opponent Jokowi met in an MRT station, continued by a meeting between Prabowo and Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) Chairman Megawati in Teuku Umar, Menteng, Central Jakarta. Previously, the Democratic Party, represented by Party chairman’s son Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono (AHY) met with Jokowi in the Presidential Palace.

The huddling up of opposition parties to the upcoming administration has sparked several questions. Is this reconciliation just about negotiating for political appointments? In a recent discussion held by Vox Point Indonesia in Pasar Baru, Central Jakarta, politicians from the Gerindra and Democratic Party asserted that the reconciliation carried out by both the parties’ chairmen with President Jokowi Widodo was done unconditionally. Both contended that the reconciliation was not about political appointments. “So, we have to put reconciliation on top. It wouldn’t be appropriate for reconciliation to be contingent on handing out positions, as if there were no prizes there would be no reconciliation. Whether there are positions or not, reconciliation is our duty together,” asserted Democratic Party Central Board Chairman Jensen Sitindaon.

Jensen stated that reconciliation was about parties’ obligation to cool the atmosphere after the 2019 elections. The Democratic Party, according to Jensen, since the beginning had planned on carrying out reconciliation, no matter whether involved in the cabinet or the next government by the chosen presidential candidate. The Democratic Party stated it did not care if the elected president would meet with Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) such as he has met with Prabowo. According to them, what is important is that they help bring down tensions after the elections, as that is the duty of every political party. “Eight and a half months, we lived in a hot climate. So, after that is finished, let us cool it down,” he asserted.

According to Jensen, Democratic Party Chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono could meet Jokowi and other important figures on August 17, as on that day every Indonesian would be commemorating Indonesia’s Independence Day and the Presidential Palace would hold a ceremony, inviting former presidents to the palace. “Because if we talk about this month, there is August 17, where former presidents will be present at the Palace. They could meet there if SBY indeed were to come,” he said.

Gerindra Party Deputy Secretary-General Andre Rosiade asserted that the meeting between Prabowo, Jokowi, and Megawati was not a reconciliation conditional on exchange of political appointments in the government or as Speaker of The People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR). According to him, the intention of the meeting was to finish issues resulting from the 2019 election. One of the effects of the meeting was that from 400 supporters of Prabowo under arrest, more than 200 had their arrest deferred.

According to Andre, Gerindra Party never made a demand for them to receive the position as Speaker of MPR. However, as the second-place winner in the legislative elections, surely if allowed to lead the MPR, Prabowo’s party would prepare their best members as a contribution to the nation and its people. “But we are also not hypocritical, as the party with the second most votes, supposedly if given a chance to receive one of the MPR leadership roles we could contribute positively to the nation and country, certainly we would put forth our candidates,” asserted Andre.

Andre stated that until now his party had not reached a final decision on whether they would join the government or remain as the opposition. “We hand over everything to Prabowo, whether outside or inside (the government), we are ready. We are just waiting for an official announcement from Prabowo. What is important now is we are united,” he added.

Meanwhile, on the topic of Speaker of the MPR and the forming of a cabinet becoming an extension of the fight between coalition 01 and 02, Poltracking Director Hanta Yudha stated that there were three reconciliations: reconciliation for Speaker of MPR, cabinet, and 2024 elections. According to him, the prediction of distribution of seats to political parties in President Jokowi’s cabinet were United Development Party (PPP) with one seat, Nasdem Party and National Awakening Party (PKB) with three seats each, Party of Functional Groups (Golkar) with four seats, and Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) with six to seven seats. This is before the possibility of seats for Hanura Party, Indonesia Solidarity Party (PSI), and United Indonesia Party (Perindo). The rest would be awarded to professionals.

Separate from the discussion, Indo Barometer Executive Director Mohammad Qodari stated that the Teuku Umar axis meeting helped the Gerindra Party chances of receiving the MPR Speaker seat which was not desired by parties supporting Jokowi. The next fight was for the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives (DPR) by Puan Maharani or Ahmad Basarah. Other than that, there would be competition for seats in the cabinet to that ahead of the 2024 presidential elections.

According to Qodari, the Prabowo-Mega reconciliation meeting should be followed closely by the public, as currently there were at least three political axes. The first was the Teuku Umar Axis (Mega-Prabowo meeting), then the Gondangdia Axis (Jokowi supporters meeting minus PDIP), and both caused a non-block axis or axis for those left behind. “I think talking about political cycles; it is easy to understand. There is a time for competition, a time for reconciliation, a time for consolidation, and a time for execution before returning to competition (elections). Coalitions during the election disband once the elections are over,” he said.

Representing the Indonesian Christian Student Movement Senior National Association Board (PNPS GMKI), Reverend Saut Sirait asserted that in every election there were two narratives, an election narrative, and a people’s narrative. The Jokowi-Prabowo and Mega-Prabowo meetings are part of the people’s narrative. “This is Jokowi’s success; Mega and Prabowo read the people’s narrative. So, Indonesia’s elections went very well. As a result, Jokowi’s, Megawati’s, and Prabowo’s meeting is a type of national pragmatism,” concluded the KPU commissioner. (dan)