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| Friday, 19 October 2018 |
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Secretary-General of the PDI-P: We are not a communist party
PDIP Secretary General HAsto Kristiyanto during a press conference after holding a discussion with farmers and farming experts ahead of national meeting of the party at DPP PDIP office in Jakarta, January 7, 2016. ANTARA FOTO/
Wednesday, 24 May, 2017 | 14:08 WIB
Secretary-General of the PDI-P: We are not a communist party


TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The secretary-general of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Hasto Kristiyanto refutes charges that he failed to deliver for his party in the 2017 regional and local elections. But the fact is that 44 PDI-P candidates running for various offices around the country, among them the former Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama and his running mate Djarot Saiful Hidayat who vied to be reelected, failed in their bids.

As the second top person after Chair Megawati Soekarnoputri in the nation's largest political party, Hasto is seen as the one most responsible for the dismal showing in the recent elections. Reportedly, Megawati vented her anger at him, which he accepts with equanimity. "That means I am still part of the family," said Hasto. 

This Yogyakarta-born politician claims the PDI-P actually achieved its target of winning half of the 101 posts contested. The PDI-P was still able to win in 57 areas, although he does admit that the party machinery did not function as well as expected. That fundamental reason, he said, was a major factor for the losses. In Jakarta, party officials bent over backward to turn around the popularity of Jakarta Governor Basuki or Ahok as he is better known following his blasphemy indictment. In Banten, Rano Karno was beaten by rumors of his allege communism background. "We were accused of being piggy-backed by the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI)," said Hasto.

Two weeks ago, Hasto was interviewed by Tempo reporters, Sapto Yunus, Jobpie Sugiharto, Reza Maulana and Raymundus Rikang at his office in central Jakarta. Half an hour into the interview, Hasto was shown the verdict on Ahok, and the sentencing to two years in prison, to be carried out immediately. "The party will take a stance because this is a serious matter," said Hasto. Excerpts of the interview:

Ahok was found guilty of blasphemy. How is the PDI-P's position on this? 

Ahok achieved many things that were never carried out by previous governors. Although those breakthroughs are modest, like the child-friendly public spaces he built, how he facilitated pilgrimages to the Holy Land, resolved the housing problem and budget policies, they are genuine concepts that must be appreciated. Unfortunately, those achievements lost ground to all the noisy movements in the name of political identity. The recent massive show of sympathy in support of Ahok was a victory of the conscience.

So, the party defended Ahok.

The party has committed to never discriminating citizens, based on ethnicity, religion, and race. Once we nominate a candidate, we will never let that person down, no matter how big the challenge.

Is it true that party members called for your resignation after the defeat in Jakarta?

I was able to meet the target given by congress, and that is to win half of the total local and regional posts being competed. The candidates nominated by the PDI-P won in 57 out of the 101 contested areas. But I am not turning a blind eye to the failings inside our party, and I am accountable for the consequences. Ibu Mega has the right to evaluate my leadership, given that I received my mandate from the (party) congress.

Reportedly, Megawati was upset because the PDI-P lost key regions, like Jakarta and Banten.

Assessments from the leadership is understandable. If Ibu Mega is upset with me, it means the institutional mechanism works and I am still seen as part of the family. I accept the consequences of being a leader, and that is to be censured by the public and my leaders.

How upset was Megawati?

Ibu Mega asked for an immediate evaluation. Politics is not just about winning or losing because truth in politics can only be seen much later. The PDI-P is currently preparing a special strategy to ensure the positions of chief executives in West, East and Central Java, as well as in Bali and Lampung. Those places are PDI-P strongholds. We must not lose them. We just need to find the right candidates.

How does the party analyze the losses in Jakarta and Banten? 

We were attacked on the issues of money politics and communism, especially in Banten. There was also an organized force intimidating the voters, and limiting the distribution of form C6 (notification forms for the right to vote) to Ahok-Djarot constituents. The key factor here is the practice of identity politics, based on religion.

Some say the party was slow in responding to issues of communism and the distribution of basic goods. 

I admit the party paid for the witnesses, but I don't know who was behind the move to distribute basic goods just before the elections.

Can this primordial issue come up again in the 2019 presidential election? How can that be prevented?

The PDI-P must fight such systemic issues, we are not a communist party, we are not oriented to the left or right, we are national patriots. In the middle of this, President Jokowi's impromptu habit of reaching out to people, or blusukan, brings us closer to the public. That's truly an asset and a weapon of the PDI-P that is hard to beat in the 2019 presidential election.

Do you agree with the theory that the results of the Jakarta election will determine the outcome of the 2019 presidential election? 

In the right hands, Jakarta can be the smooth road to the presidency. But if it's wrongly managed, Jakarta can be a killing ground. Although we lost in the capital, there are still many roads to overcome on the way to the 2019 election.

Read the full interview in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine

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