Regional elections in Solo: Are they as bad as Jakarta?

Gibran after completing the fit and proper test at PDIP DPP’s Office in Jakarta on Monday (10/02/2020). (Photo: Prive. Doc)

IO, Jakarta – Even though it is still many months away, the Solo Regional Elections on 23 September 2020 are already in the public eye. Other than being the starting point of President Joko Widodo’s political career (as its Mayor), Solo is also the place where the President’s son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, is starting his own political career as a candidate for the Mayoralty of Solo in the 2020 Regional Elections. Gibran must face off with two other candidates, Vice Mayor of Solo Achmad Purnomo and the Speaker of the Regional House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Daerah – “DPRD”) of Solo Teguh Prakosa, in his quest to win the heart of the citizens of Solo. 

Gibran, a F & B businessman, decided to enter politics by registering as a cadre of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan – “PDI”) on 23 September 2019. Even though he is a “political newbie”, Gibran is said to be a strong candidate with increasing electability. This is obvious from the support that he is getting from several Government coalition parties, starting from the National Awakening Party (Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa – “PKB”), the Functional Group (Golongan Karya – “Golkar”) Party, the Democrat Party, and the Great Indonesia Movement (Gerakan Indonesia Raya – “Gerindra”) Party. 

On the other hand, Teguh has been part of the Branch Leadership Council (Dewan Pimpinan Cabang – “DPC”) of PDIP since 2000, while Purnomo once went against Jokowi-FX Hadi Rudyatmo (“Rudy”) in the 2004 Solo Regional Elections. When Jokowi submitted himself as Candidate Governor of DKI Jakarta in 2012 and Rudy replaced him as the Mayor of Solo, PDIP submitted Purnomo as the Vice Mayor of Solo to replace him. 

PDIP bets on the three Mayoral Candidates to win the Solo Regional Elections for their cause. All three candidate entrants have undergone a fit and proper test courtesy of the Central Leadership Council (Dewan Perjuangan Pusat – “DPP”) PDIP in Jakarta on Monday (10/02/2020). The Chairman of the PDIP’s Central Java Regional Leadership Council (Dewan Pimpinan Daerah – “DPD”), Bambang Wuryanto, stated that the Party will issue a complete recommendation for Regional Head Candidates in the 270 regions of the Simultaneous Regional Elections in 2020 by March 2020 at the latest. PDIP’s DPP has currently completed recommendations for 44 Regional Election areas. 

In other words, there are still 226 regions without candidate recommendations. However, Bambang is still reluctant to announce the 44 regions with candidate recommendations even though the announcement was supposed to be made during the PDIP National Work Meeting (Rapat Kerja Nasional – “Rakernas”) held at JiExpo, Kemayoran, Jakarta on 10- 12 January 2020. 

Bambang states that no matter what recommendation PDIP’s DPP will issue, everyone, even Gibran or Purnomo themselves, must comply with the decision made by the Party. “No matter which cadre of the Party it is, anyone who feels themselves to be a cadre must completely abide by the Party’s decisions,” he said at the Senayan Parliamentary Complex, Jakarta, on Monday (10/02/2020). 

Keeping Optimistic 
Gibran promises to remain loyal to PDIP even if he does not get a recommendation from the Party to run as the Mayor of Solo in the 2020 Regional Elections. “I remain loyal to PDIP. Even if I don’t get championed,” he said after completing the fit and proper test at PDIP DPP’s Office in Jakarta on Monday (10/02/2020). He further stated that he will involve all components of society in order to ensure smooth cooperation. “Involving all elements, both cultural and structural, that’s my commitment,” he said. 

Gibran further states that he has never held any communication with other political parties that expressed their readiness to support him in the Solo Mayoral Elections. He claimed that he only heard that these other parties want to support him. “However, I remain loyal to PDIP,” he said again. “I am optimistic that DPP PDIP will recommend me. I have even prepared my own funds for campaigning.” 

Director Executive of the Voxpol Center Research and Consulting Pangi Syarwi Chaniago states that parties should prioritize cadres who have joined them earlier and whose loyalty are proven to them instead of any newly-registered cadres, no matter how popular they are. “However, nowadays some parties ruin the internal cadre processing of political parties – they support wet-behind-the-ears cadres, even non-party candidates as their Regional Head candidate because of the candidate’s popularity or logistical levels, or who the people endorsing such candidates forward are.” 

Pangi believes that if this goes on, cadre loyalty will fade and frictions at regional level will occur. Support from Regional Leadership Councils to Central Leadership Council will split up. “Therefore, DPP must be careful before they decide who to support. They should open their eyes and ears, see and hear the minds and opinions of those at the grass roots,” he said 

This is not the first time PDIP has faced such an issue. DKI Jakarta’s DPD PDIP recommended Boy Sadikin as Candidate Governor for DKI Jakarta. However, DPP PDIP went in another direction and recommended Basuki Tjahaja Purnama alias Ahok as Candidate Governor for DKI in 2017. “Because they feel that their voices were not heard by the DPP, Boy Sadikin removed himself from PDIP along with a number of other loyal and militant cadres. Who was hurt by this? Still PDIP’s own, as they lost their militant and loyal cadres simply because of differing tastes and DPP’s own short-term politics,” he said. 

PDIP Solo is currently very strong in the local DPRD. With 30 seats in the Regional House, PDIP does not need to form a coalition with any other party if they want to support a candidate. Bambang reminded us that the administrative requirement for candidacy is 20% of local seats. That’s only 9 seats, while PDIP has 30 seats in Solo. Their position is extremely firm. However, Bambang has no objection to other parties making a coalition with PDIP. “However, PDIP has its own strategies for determining the Candidate for Mayor and Vice Mayor of Solo. If the strategies proposed by our Solo branch get accepted by other parties, if these others decide to support us, we definitely welcome them,” he said. (dan)