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Jokowi offers ministerial positions to bring Prabowo and Gerindra into fold

President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo. (Antara Photo/Puspa Perwitasari). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

JAKARTA, Jun 9, 2019, Jakarta Globe. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has reportedly been in discussion with Prabowo Subianto to bring the former Army general and his Gerindra party into a ruling coalition, sources said, reported the Jakarta Globe.

Jokowi is seeking to double down reform efforts in his second term after winning 55.5 percent of the vote in April’s election.

His main supporting political party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) led a coalition with 61 percent of the seats at the House of Representatives.

But Prabowo is challenging the election result at the Constitutional Court and still wields considerable power to disrupt Jokowi’s reform efforts.

“They have been lobbying Gerindra to join the government. From what we understand, they’re offering us ministerial seats,” a source inside Prabowo’s campaign team told the Jakarta Globe’s sister publication Suara Pembaruan late on Thursday.

The source said Jokowi wants a solid government with minimal opposition in parliament.

“They want us to join [them] in developing Indonesia’s future,” he said.

The source said after the 2019 presidential election, a number of key Jokowi supporters have met with members of Prabowo’s campaign team.

“[The meetings have been] positive. But we also told them that constructive input and criticisms don’t have to come from within the government,” the source said.

Prabowo’s Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) won 78 House seats in the legislative election to become the third largest party in the parliament despite gaining more votes than outright leader the Golkar Party. The latter has a more even distribution of votes across different provinces.

The Gerindra coalition includes the National Mandate Party (PAN), Democratic Party and Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).

Together, the coalition holds 226 of 575 seats in the House for the next five years. The new members of parliament will be sworn in in October.

PKS politician Mardani Ali Sera believes Gerindra will remain outside the government despite the offer of ministerial positions.

“We believe Gerindra will stay with the Adil Makmur [Just and Prosperous] Coalition,” Mardani said in Jakarta on Friday, referring to the coalition by its official name. “We believe the offers won’t be accepted.”

Political Negotiations

Party executives from PAN and the Democratic Party have met publicly with President Jokowi several times, leading to speculations that they intend to join the ruling coalition.

President Jokowi met PAN chairman and House of Representatives speaker Zulkifli Hasan last month to discuss the leadership of the House.

Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, the son of Democratic Party founder and former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, met Jokowi at the State Palace just days after Prabowo claimed he had won the election in defiance of quick count results.

Agus and his brother, Edhie Baskoro Yudhoyono, or Ibas, visited PDI-P matriarch Megawati Soekarnoputri on Idul Fitri on Wednesday. They have yet visited Prabowo.

Asked if PAN and the Democratic Party would be leaving the Gerindra coalition anytime soon, the source said his party’s main focus is still on resolving the election dispute at the Constitutional Court. The trial will start next week.

“We’ve heard speculations. But up until now, we are sure we will remain solid [in the coalition],” the source said.

“We don’t want to be distracted [from resolving the election dispute] by these political moves. The intention [from Jokowi’s team] is positive, and we respect it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Prabowo’s spokesman Andre Rosiade said any political move made by PAN and the Democratic Party to curry favor with Jokowi was nothing unusual.

“Gerindra has also been asked to join the coalition for his second term. Naturally, [he would] expect the Democratic Party and PAN to join [his coalition] as well. We’ve also heard that Jokowi also wants Gerindra in his government,” he told reporters on Thursday.

“If PAN and the Democratic Party want to join [the Jokowi coalition], they can do so. It’s well within their rights. We’re not going to stop them. It’s up to them. [Of course] every choice has its consequences,” Andre said.

Andre said he had heard rumors that Agus Yudhoyono will be given a ministerial position in Jokowi’s new cabinet.

Previously, PDI-P secretary general Hasto Kristiyanto said his party will open the door for all oppositions who want to join the government coalition.

“Even Gerindra. We can work with them in parliament… they’re not going to leave [the parliament]. They will have to respect the trust [given by voters] to Gerindra,” Hasto said on Monday.

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