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Prabowo shores up support for incoming government via Idul Fitri 'safari'

Jakarta Post - April 15, 2024

Yerica Lai, Jakarta – Prabowo Subianto has apparently seized the opportunity presented by the Idul Fitri holiday to strengthen his existing ties and win over potential allies, in a move likely intended to shore up political support for his incoming government.

The president-elect spent his morning on Thursday, the second day of the two-day Idul Fitri holiday, breakfasting with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and the First Family at Merdeka Palace.

President Jokowi and First Lady Iriana are seen at the palace entrance welcoming Prabowo, accompanied by his only son Didit Hediprasetyo, in a video released by Prabowo's campaign team. Shortly afterward, the President's youngest son Kaesang Pangarep and his wife Erina Gudono join the group.

The Gerindra Party chairman continued his "political safari" later that day, turning up at the private gatherings of political party elites that supported his presidential bid, including Golkar Party chair Airlangga Hartarto and Golkar advisory board head Aburizal Bakrie, National Mandate Party (PAN) chair Zulkifli Hasan and Gerindra's senior politician Sufmi Dasco Ahmad.

Maintaining a brisk pace, Prabowo traveled out of town on Friday to visit former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at his private residence in Cikeas, West Java.

The Defense Minister described his visit to the founder of the Democratic Party, another Gerindra ally, as "a Lebaran visit to a senior".

Despite his insistence these visits were intended "to strengthen silaturahmi [kinship]", political observers viewed Prabowo's tour as a political move to foster unity among his party's allies.

According to executive director Agung Baskoro of think tank Trias Politika Strategis, it was important for Prabowo to make sure that the parties in his Onward Indonesia Coalition (KIM) remained committed to his policy agenda through the formation of the next government in October, when Prabowo is due to be inaugurated.

"It cannot be denied that [the silaturahmi visits] were part of Prabowo's efforts to maintain communication and ensure he has a strong and solid coalition that supports his [incoming] government," said Agung.

"If a [KIM] partner clashes with Prabowo and decides to take unexpected maneuvers, it is important that Prabowo still commands enough political support in his [electoral alliance] to keep his government on track," the analyst added.

Although vice president-elect Gibran Rakabuming Raka, Jokowi's eldest son, was not spotted at the palace's holiday breakfast on Thursday, he and his family paid a visit to Prabowo's Kebayoran Baru residence in South Jakarta on Wednesday.

Burying hatchet?

The Idul Fitri holiday also presented an opportunity for Prabowo to explore possible reconciliation with his rivals through coalition building moves, as Gerindra and three other pro-Prabowo parties in the House of Representatives failed to collectively command a majority in the legislature.

His campaign manager Rosan Roeslani made two surprise visits on Wednesday to Megawati Soekarnoputri, chairwoman of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), at her private residence in Jakarta.

The week prior on April 3, Rosan appeared together with House Speaker Puan Maharani, Megawati's daughter, in a photograph taken during a private Ramadan gathering at his home and posted online.

Talks about a potential meeting between Megawati and Prabowo have gained steam in recent weeks after several prominent PDI-P members, including Puan, said the two political heavyweights still maintained good personal relations despite being on opposing sides during the 2024 general election.

Although PDI-P candidate Ganjar Pranowo lost the three-horse presidential race to Prabowo, the party won the largest percentage of votes in the legislative elections held simultaneously on Feb. 14.

While this could convert into majority seats and therefore entitle the party to clinch the post of House Speaker, the General Elections Commission (KPU) is slated to announce how the votes translate into House seats only in June.

Gerindra politicians have been keen to invite the PDI-P to join Prabowo's incoming government, though the PDI-P has hinted at taking on the opposition role in the national legislature.

Mutual benefits

According to Gerindra deputy chair Habiburokhman, fellow politician Dasco and PDI-P executive chair Puan have been engaging in preliminary talks to arrange a meeting between the two parties' leaders.

PDI-P secretary-general Hasto Kristiyanto has suggested, however, that any meeting between Megawati and Prabowo should take place only after the Constitutional Court issued its ruling in the ongoing electoral dispute, filed by losing candidates Ganjar and Anies Baswedan.

Trias Politika's Agung expressed confidence that a Prabowo-Megawati meeting would take place, seeing that both leaders stood to gain from a one-on-one dialogue.

"Fostering a warm relationship with other former presidents, such as Megawati and Yudhoyono, could help Prabowo balance out Jokowi and allow him to dispel the image of being Jokowi's puppet," Agung said.

"If the PDI-P decides to be the opposition [in the incoming government], the meeting could still be beneficial, since the party will still need to lobby Prabowo to prevent Airlangga from maneuvering to take the House speakership [away] from the PDI-P," he added.

Source: https://asianews.network/prabowo-shores-up-support-for-incoming-government-via-idul-fitri-safari