Although the campaign period has been running for almost two months, the coalition of parties supporting presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and vice presidential candidate Sandiaga Uno has not been solid. The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) Jakarta Chapter reportedly threatened to turn off its party machine in the 2019 Presidential Election because the Gerindra Party insisted on nominating its own candidate to fill the position left by Sandiaga.
On Tuesday (10/30), Head of PKS Faction in the Regional Representatives Council of Jakarta Abdurrahman Suhaimi said the threat came from PKS grassroots due to their disappointment with the Gerindra Jakarta Chapter Head M. Taufik, who insisted to run as Anies Baswedan’s new deputy. The PKS cadres were also disappointed with Gerindra General Chairman Prabowo Subianto for allowing Taufik’s manoeuvre.
Earlier, there was a high-level agreement between Gerindra and PKS to support Prabowo-Sandi duet in the 2019 Presidential Election on condition that PKS gets the deputy governor seat. “If he wants to be a president or leader at the national level, he must be able to fulfil his promises,” he said.
If there is still no certainty about the Jakarta deputy governor seat, Suhaimi said the coalition of Gerindra-PKS from Jakarta chapter to the central chapter will certainly fall apart. Consequently, the work of Prabowo-Sandiaga campaign team will not be optimal.
This problem stemmed from an agreement between Gerindra and PKS to form a coalition for the West Java Gubernatorial Election in the middle of this year. At the time, PKS actually had a coalition with the Democratic Party to support Deddy Mizwar as a candidate for governor. However, Gerindra then invited PKS to form a new axis by nominating Sudrajat-Ahmad Syaikhu duet.
PKS asked Prabowo to take one PKS cadre as vice president if he wants to run again as presidential candidate in the 2019 Presidential Election. PKS proposed nine of its cadres. A forum of clerics and national figures, Forum Ijtima Ulama dan Tokoh Nasional, held at the end of July also proposed the Head of PKS’ highest law-making body the Majelis Syuro (advisory council) Salim Segaf Al Jufri and popular preacher Abdul Somad Batubara.
Prabowo reportedly did not feel compatible with all the proposed cadres. Funding became a complicated problem for the former three-star general. Prabowo previously stated that high political costs were behind the failure of many Gerindra candidates in the simultaneous regional head elections (Pilkada) this year.
At the time, the logistics problems were expected to be resolved by taking Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono (AHY), the son of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) and the leader of the the Democratic Party’s Joint Task Force Command (Kogasma) for the 2019 Elections. However, PKS and PAN rejected the move as they still cling to the recommendation from the forum of clerics and national figures.
(Read: Prabowo-SBY Coalition Crumbles)
Prabowo then proposed Sandiaga as his vice presidential candidate. At first, PAN and PKS rejected the Prabowo-Sandiaga pair because it would turn the president-vice president formation into a Gerindra-Gerindra formation. “This is ridiculous. We are only asked to be cheerleaders?” said one of the party’s high-ranking officials. PKS eventually agreed to support the candidate pair after being promised to fill the Jakarta deputy governor seat left by Sandiaga.
However, Taufik said what happened was coercion, not an agreement. In the General Elections Commission waiting room, just minutes before the registration of the Prabowo-Sandiaga pair, PKS forced him to sign an agreement that the Jakarta deputy governor seat would be given to a PKS cadre.
Taufik stated that the letter was not valid because it was not signed by the Secretary of Gerindra’s Jakarta Regional Leadership Council. In addition, it violates the procedure for replacing the deputy governor, which must be carried out through the Regional Legislative Council (DPRD). He proposed himself as deputy governor candidate DPRD Jakarta because the process of electing a replacement deputy governor must be approved by the council.
According to political expert and Director of the KedaiKOPI Survey Institute Hendri Satrio, the PKS threat cannot be underestimated. He said Prabowo should maintain the coalition’s internal strength. If Gerindra insisted on wanting to get the deputy governor seat, it may give the impression that Prabowo does not intend to win in the 2019 presidential election and only tries to expand Gerindra Party.
In reality, Prabowo's candidacy accompanied by Sandiaga is indeed very beneficial for Gerindra. This is called the coattail effect. The legislative and presidential elections will be held simultaneously in 2019, which means the presidential candidate will influence the number of votes the party will get.
Based on survey results from many polling organisations and internal simulations in PKS and PAN, Gerindra will replace Golkar as the second largest party below PDI-P due to the coattail effect. This means whether Prabowo wins or not in next year’s presidential election, Gerindra is already reaped the rewards by getting a large number of votes.
The problem is that this effect does not necessarily apply to PKS and PAN. Besides not getting a coattail effect, the number of votes in the two parties are very likely to be cut by Sainte-Lague method, which begins to be applied in the general election next year. This calculation method is believed to be more profitable for large parties with high number of votes.
Therefore, the two parties are currently focusing on securing the votes through campaigns from the legislative candidates of each party. The National Mandate Party (PAN) secretary general previously admitted that PAN is more focused on the efforts to win the legislative elections rather than trying to win the Prabowo-Sandi pair in the 2019 Presidential Election.
PKS and PAN are now eyeing the votes from those who are dissatisfied with Jokowi’s administration, who will most likely cast their legislative votes for Gerindra. Reportedly, West Java’s electoral district (Dapil) became a battleground for the three parties to reap the votes of anti-Jokowi voters.
Evidently, instead of promoting Prabowo-Sandi, the PKS’ campaign strategy is more focused on the efforts to explore dissatisfaction over President Joko Widodo’s administration through the #2019GantiPresiden (#2019ChangethePresident) movement. Without certainty of obtaining the Jakarta deputy governor seat, Prabowo-Sandiaga will only get small boost from PKS’ militant political machine.
As a consequence, the incumbent Joko Widodo is more likely to come out as winner in the 2019 Presidential Election.