Psywar after Mega Lobbying Prabowo and Surya Paloh’s Maneuver

Writer: Ameidyo Daud

Editor: Hari Widowati

26/7/2019, 21.47 WIB

The Megawati-Prabowo meeting is a sign that PDI-P will partner with Gerindra, while Surya Paloh wants to raise his bargaining position in Jokowi's cabinet.

Telaah Megawati vs Surya Paloh
123RF.com/Lightwise
Competition between Megawati and Surya Paloh ahead of Jokowi's cabinet formation for the second period.

There was a political meeting between PDI-P Chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri and Gerindra Party Chairman Prabowo Subianto. On the same day in a different place, Nasdem Party Chairman Surya Paloh met with the Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan. The two meetings seemed to show a psywar (psychological warfare) between PDI-P and Nasdem Party ahead of the formation of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo’s new cabinet.

The Prabowo-Megawati meeting initially discussed the relations between the two leaders after the political contestation last April, but then turned a bit to the coalition issue between the Prabowo and Jokowi camps.

However, the decision on that issue is in Jokowi’s hands. “He has the prerogative power for that, not me. If there are suggestions, I can tell him about it,” said Megawati in Jakarta, Wednesday (7/24).

Prabowo was honored to be invited by Megawati. He claimed to have a fairly close relations with the daughter of the first Indonesian president Soekarno. The former general commander of Kopassus said his political journey did make his viewpoint different, but their friendship will remain intertwined. “If there is a difference, that’s a normal thing,” Prabowo said.

Not only having lunch together, they also agreed to continue the meeting. Megawati invited Prabowo to attend the PDI-P Congress in August, while Prabowo invited him to visit his residence. “We are also waiting for Ibu Mega to take a trip to Hambalang,” he said.

Makan siang bersama Megawati dan Prabowo
Megawati had lunch with Prabowo (PDI-P doc.)

 Surya Paloh's Maneuver for the 2024 Election

On the same day, Surya Paloh invited Anies Baswedan to Nasdem’s office in Gondangdia, Central Jakarta. Paloh had previously held a meeting with the elites of the Joko “Jokowi” Widodo-Ma’ruf Amin’s coalition parties, such as the National Awakening Party (PKB) Chairman Muhaimin Iskandar, Golkar Chairman Airlangga Hartarto, and the United Development Party (PPP) Acting Chairman Suharso Monoarfa.

The meeting between Paloh and Anies was initially a discussion about the development of Jakarta Province. The Media Group owner said Nasdem supported Anies in running the capital city government. He then talked about the 2024 General Election.

According to Paloh, Anies has the potential to be nominated as a presidential candidate even though the decision whether or not he wants to be nominated is entirely up to the former minister of education and culture. “The intention is definitely there, and all good intentions must be maintained,” he said.

Surya Paloh dan Anies Baswedan
Surya Paloh and Anies Baswedan (ANTARA FOTO/Fauzi Lamboka)

However, Anies was reluctant to comment further about the meeting. “[Only] talking about Jakarta [government],” Anies said, as cited from Kompas.com.

This of course raises questions, especially because PDI-P officials were not present at the time of the meeting between Surya Paloh and the elites of the coalition parties. PDI-P Secretary General Hasto Kristiyanto stated that his party had not thought much about the 2024 election, considering that Jokowi is currently preparing his government for the second period. “That’s from Mr. Surya. We haven’t thought about 2024,” he said.

Paloh’s Psywar and Affirmation of Mega’s Position

According to political observers, there were psywar nuances from the Paloh-Anies meeting. If Gerindra joins the coalition and becomes the second largest party, it will automatically change Nasdem’s position as the fifth largest party in the upcoming government.

“This maneuver means the Nasdem chairman gives a psywar or an uppercut,” LSI Denny JA Researcher Rully Akbar told Katadata.co.id on Thursday (7/25).

It is not without reason that Paloh have the courage to do political maneuver like this. The number of votes for Nasdem and Paloh’s influence over the Jokowi-Kalla government became an asset in doing it. This method will be used to bid on important positions, such as in the Cabinet and the People's Consultative Assembly Council.

“It is done without closing the opportunity for political collaboration in the 2020 Regional Head Election and the 2024 Presidential Election,” Exposit Strategic Political Analyst Arif Susanto told Katadata.co.id.

On the other hand, Megawati apparently wanted to show that her role is very vital in the political configuration and formation of the Jokowi-Ma’ruf government. Moreover, she seemed marginalized in locking up political dominance during Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla’s victory four years ago. “Megawati will certainly maintain the current conditions by inviting Prabowo and Gerindra to give political balance,” Arif said.

Prabowo and Anies also felt the effects of the psywar between Megawati and Paloh. Yesterday's meeting was a sign that Prabowo wanted to keep Gerindra’s chances of getting a share of power. In addition, his name will also remain an important part in determining Indonesia's political configuration. “Prabowo found a new footing through his closeness with Megawati to restore his political influence,” Arif said.

Anies also benefited because of the chance to get a big political vehicle through Nasdem. By cooperating with Anies, Rully said Nasdem is probably looking for a wider political market than the current one. “On the other hand, Anies is also holding a strategic position in Jakarta,” he said.

These maneuvers certainly lead to Jokowi’s hands. According to Rully, Jokowi has two choices: enlarging his coalition with the consequences of being deemed undemocratic or allowing opposition to criticize his policies. Nevertheless, Rully reminded that whatever the results of Jokowi’s decision, there will always be those who are mad at him because they do not get the share of power.

“Those who are angry usually have received gasoline [logistics] and political vehicles. Moreover, there is no incumbent in 2024, so the fight will start from the third year [Jokowi’s second government period],” he said.

Nevertheless, PDI-P and Nasdem tried to dismiss the news of the breakdown of relations between Megawati and Surya Paloh. According to them, Megawati was not in Jakarta when Paloh met with the coalition leaders. Her subordinates said she will also hold an internal meeting with members of the Indonesian Working Coalition. “The chairmen of all coalition members will be invited to meet her soon,” PDI-P Treasurer Eriko Sotarduga said.

Nasdem Secretary General Johnny G. Plate denied any receding relations between the two figures after the 2019 presidential election. Johny said Megawati and Paloh are still unable to meet each other because of their internal activities. “We are preparing a congress in November, PDI-P is also preparing a congress,” he said.

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