PDI-P confident despite election fumble

Innocently curious: A boy peers under the curtain while a man casts his ballot inside a polling booth in Tanjung Pasir, a fishing village in Tangerang, Banten, on Wednesday. (JP/R. Berto Wedhatama)

Innocently curious: A boy peers under the curtain while a man casts his ballot inside a polling booth in Tanjung Pasir, a fishing village in Tangerang, Banten, on Wednesday. (JP/R. Berto Wedhatama)

The country’s political parties have everything to play for following a less-than-stellar performance by the pre-poll favorite, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), in Wednesday’s legislative election.

With 93 percent of the vote counted as of 11:50 p.m., the PDI-P had pocketed 19.24 percent of the vote, according to a Kompas quick count. The Jakarta-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) also showed that with 96.25 percent of the vote counted, the PDI-P had received 19. 08 percent.

If these results are confirmed, not only will the PDI-P probably have to build a coalition to nominate Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo as its presidential candidate, but Jokowi, if he is elected, will face a House of Representatives that will be sharply fragmented.

But any plan to form a coalition is likely to be a hard bargain for the PDI-P as Jokowi was quick to reject any alliance plan if other parties demanded ministerial posts in exchange for support.

“We welcome any parties that want to form a coalition with us, but they should know we’re not going to repeat this administration’s mistake and be forced to give away ministerial posts and other concessions in exchange for support,” said Jokowi.

A majority of pollsters had predicted that the PDI-P would get at least 27 percent of the vote following its last-minute decision to endorse Jokowi, the country’s most popular politician, as its presidential candidate.

The PDI-P executives themselves had been optimistic that the party would be able to go it alone in nominating Jokowi for president.

To be able to nominate a presidential ticket, a political party or coalition of parties must get 25 percent of the popular vote or 20 percent of the seats in the House.

The national meeting of the PDI-P in September 2013 set a target of getting 27 percent of the vote.

“If you ask me whether I am satisfied or not with the result, of course I am not,” Jokowi told reporters shortly before holding a meeting with the PDI-P chairperson Megawati Soekarnoputri at her private residence on Jl. Teuku Umar in Central Jakarta.

p01-quickcount.img_assist_custom-489x287In its public statement, the PDI-P said that the party was grateful for having come in first place in the poll. “We will not indulge in recriminations. We thank everybody who has worked hard for this,” Puan Maharani, the daughter of Megawati, said.

The PDI-P, although leading in 17 of the country’s 33 provinces, will be unlikely to get 152 seats in the House, which will make it more difficult for the party to run a government effectively.

Political analyst Arya Fernandes from the Jakarta-based Charta Politika said that the lackluster performance by the PDI-P was a result of its ineffectual political machinery.

“Today’s legislative election tested how the PDI-P could manage the Jokowi factor and translate it into electoral results. The reality was that the Jokowi effect did not have much benefit,” Arya said.

What Jokowi is seeking to avoid is a repeat of the current administration, which has long been dogged by intra-coalition bickering.

In the 2009 legislative election, the Democratic Party won 20.85 percent of the vote. However, the Dems were forced to form a coalition with the Golkar Party, with 14.45 percent, and Islamic-based political parties which collectively controlled 24.7 percent of the vote.

The likely partners for a coalition could either be Golkar, the political vehicle of tycoon Aburizal Bakrie, which garnered 14.34 percent of the vote or the Gerindra Party led by former commander of the Army’s Special Forces (Kopassus), Prabowo Subianto, which came in third place with 11.85 percent of the vote, based on early returns provided by the CSIS.

While Golkar’s share of the vote remained stagnant, Gerindra posted an impressive achievement by more than doubling the 4.26 percent of the vote it garnered in the 2009 legislative election.

It appeared that the party’s media-savvy political campaign was able to attract first-time voters and members of the middle class.

Many voters in rural areas have also been drawn to the figure of Prabowo. The Gerindra leader is viewed as the antithesis of incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who has been criticized for his perceived indecisiveness.

When asked about his prospects for the presidency, Prabowo said: “Let us see, because it is my political party which will nominate me. But with this result, I am very, very optimistic about becoming president. I’m just an inch away,” he said.

Prabowo also said that he would be open to any proposal for future coalitions: “For the advancement of the nation, we are open to a coalition with any political parties, including the PDI-P,” he said.

Later on Wednesday, Yudhoyono, in his capacity as chairman of the Democratic Party, congratulated the PDI-P, Golkar and Gerindra, for their performances in the legislative election.

Yudhoyono also conceded defeat on behalf of his party.

“According to quick counts, the Democratic Party is in fourth position with around 10 percent of the vote. This is relatively low compared to our performance in the 2009 election. Assuming that the quick-count results will not be much different than the final official tally, we fully accept the result,” Yudhoyono said.

The party, he said, would be willing to be part of the ruling coalition or of the opposition camp. The Jakarta Post

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