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Post-election remedy: Democratic Party reaches out to cool tensions

Jakarta Globe - May 7, 2019

Carlos Ky Paath & Christian Lee, Jakarta – Amid relentless accusations of foul play coming from presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto's camp, which have resulted in political tensions since last month's elections, some parties in his coalition are reaching out to the incumbent, Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

Democratic Party secretary general Hinca Pandjaitan said the party's founder, former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, did not want to be involved in moves by some non-party factions in the Prabowo camp, which plan to reject the election result.

He said the Democratic Party is always open to communicating with all elements of society and has never closed the space for discussing solutions to every issue affecting the people.

"Our communication with all parties is going well. I often hold discussions with the secretaries general of other parties. There is no problem," Hinca said on Monday.

Prabowo continues to insist that he had won the election with as much as 62 percent of the vote, despite all credible pollsters, including those affiliated with his Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), showing a double-digit lead for Jokowi. As of Tuesday, with more than 69 percent of the ballots already having been counted by the General Elections Commission (KPU), Jokowi was leading with 56 percent.

However, Prabowo doubled down on his claim with accusations of massive fraud in the election, which he says had cost him the lead. His camp even threatened mass action to overturn the result.

Still, Democratic Party honorary council chairman Amir Syamsuddin said the party would obey the law and the 1945 Constitution, further signaling its objection to plans to settle the dispute on the streets instead of in court.

"We are still waiting for the announcement of the results on May 22. We must adhere to the Constitution and the law," Amir said. "We all certainly do not want any friction that would divide society. We must think about the country's progress."

Party scion makes a move

Signs of the Democratic Party distancing itself from Prabowo's extreme discourse have emerged even before the election. Yudhoyono for example, criticized Prabowo's open rally at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium last month – which included a mass morning prayer – for being too exclusive.

Last Thursday, Jokowi held a one-on-one meeting with Democratic Party executive Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, commonly known by his initials AHY, at the Presidential Palace in Central Jakarta.

Agus, who is Yudhoyono's eldest son, said the president invited him to the meeting, which saw them discussing several topics.

Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung said the meeting took place to "synchronize perceptions" regarding the quick-count results of the presidential election and to cool things down.

"The purpose of a meeting like this is to reduce tensions," Pramono said at the Presidential Palace on Friday.

Pramono, who is also a member of the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), said this was nothing unusual and that meetings with politicians of other parties would continue to take place.

"Politics is dynamic; politics is always moving. Maybe it doesn't stop with AHY, maybe [President Jokowi] will meet with others too in the near future," he said.

There have been disputes and varied responses after the presidential election, but according to Pramono, differences in opinion should not split the nation.

"Our politics now should not be too rigid. What we should see, is the joy of democracy, not anger," he said.

'Ordinary meeting'

Prabowo's camp meanwhile played down the meeting. "It was an ordinary meeting between the president and an Indonesian citizen," Ahmad Riza Patria, a spokesman for Prabowo's campaign team, said at the KPU headquarters in Central Jakarta on Friday.

Ahmad said the coalition supporting Prabowo and his running mate Sandiaga Uno, and which includes the Democratic Party, remains solid and continues to monitor the ongoing official vote count by the KPU.

Still, speculation that Prabowo was disappointed with Agus for attending the meeting arose when the former Army general skipped a scheduled visit to Agus's mother Ani Yudhoyono, who has been hospitalized.

"We don't want to speculate about this, but we had conversations that led to it [raising the matter of Prabowo's disappointment]. Maybe Prabowo is a little disappointed with AHY's meeting with Jokowi," Democratic Party member Ferdinand Hutahaean said on Saturday.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/context/postelection-remedy-democratic-party-reaches-out-to-cool-tensions