President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo met with political rival Prabowo Subianto at the Presidential Palace in Central Jakarta on Friday afternoon to discuss current events, the state of the nation and the possibility of forming a backup governing coalition.
It was the president’s second meeting with the chairman of the opposition Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) since the April presidential election.
“The third point related to a coalition, but this business is not final. We have discussed the possibility of Gerindra joining our coalition,” Jokowi said, flanked by Prabowo.
Beside a potential coalition, the two politicians also discussed global economic trends, and they agreed that political stability and security were key to ensure continued growth in the Indonesian economy despite a global decline.
The government’s plan to relocate the Indonesian capital to East Kalimantan was also discussed.
Prabowo reiterated an earlier undertaking to support the Jokowi administration over the next five years, whether within a governing coalition, or in the opposition, for the sake of the nation.
“We discussed many things; the economy, political situation, security, national defense and the new capital. I conveyed my support for the capital [relocation project],” Prabowo said.
The former Army general said the country should reunite now the presidential race was over.
“I think this is a time to be united. If we are needed, we are ready. We will instill optimism. We believe [the economy of] Indonesia can grow by double digits and make a speedy recovery,” Prabowo said.
“If we won’t be in the Cabinet, we will still be loyal outside it, for checks and balances. Merah Putih remains above all,” he said, referring to the national flag.
Jokowi and Prabowo both described their relationship as cordial, despite their political differences.
Gerindra is set to hold its national working meeting on Tuesday next week, when it is widely expected to decide on whether to join the governing coalition led by the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), or to remain in the opposition. Jokowi is member of the PDI-P.
Prabowo met with PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Sukarnoputri in July and September this year, which led to speculation that Gerindra might join the ruling coalition.
The president also met with Democratic Party chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Thursday to discuss a possible coalition.
Jokowi was supported by the PDI-P, Golkar, National Democratic Party (NasDem), National Awakening Party (PKB), United Development Party (PPP), Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI), People’s Conscience Party (Hanura) and Indonesian Justice and Unity Party (PKPI) in this year’s presidential election, Although the PSI, Hanura and PKPI failed to cross the electoral threshold, the ruling coalition still controls 349 of the 575 seats in the House of Representatives.