Prabowo Courts Biggest Party to Control 79% of Parliament Seats

(Bloomberg) -- Indonesia’s President-elect Prabowo Subianto is in talks with the country’s largest party to form a coalition that would control 79% of parliament.

Most Read from Bloomberg

Top officials from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, or PDI-P, have been holding intensive discussions with representatives from Prabowo’s Gerindra party since March, including on potentially giving PDI-P members key ministerial seats or influence over the state budget, according to people familiar with the matter.

Prabowo, who will succeed President Joko Widodo on Oct. 20, has been reaching out across party lines to ensure he can secure lawmakers’ approval for key campaign promises such as his free lunch program and policies to help the country achieve 8% economic growth. That replicates the model set forth by Jokowi, as the incumbent is known, whose control over 74% of parliament allowed him to push through contentious legal and criminal reforms.

PDI-P is set to become the largest opposition party with 19% of seats in parliament after its presidential candidate lost to Prabowo in the Feb. 14 polls. The discussions between PDI-P and Prabowo’s allies show how political pragmatism may take precedence, even if the party is no stranger to opposition politics, having held that role under former dictator Suharto.

Puan Maharani, daughter of PDI-P’s Chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri, has been leading the talks, said the people who asked not to be named discussing private matters. Still, negotiations remain fluid and the main disagreement revolves around any potential role Jokowi might play after he steps down as president. Despite being a PDI-P member, Jokowi was widely seen as backing rival candidate Prabowo during the campaign — a move Megawati viewed as a betrayal, the people said.

Representatives from PDI-P, Gerindra and Maharani didn’t immediately respond to separate requests for comment.

The decision to join Prabowo’s coalition or not rests entirely in Megawati’s hands and the matter may be discussed at the party’s national meeting, the people said.

Hundreds of PDI-P’s members from across the nation are set to meet on May 24-26 to discuss the party’s stance and strategy. For the first time in a decade, the sitting president Jokowi will be absent as he wasn’t invited to the meeting after losing his membership.

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.