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Director of AJIPP Talked about What to Expect After Election

What to expect after the election

 

Edbert Gani Suryahudaya

Jakarta

 

Looking at the quick and real counts that are still progressing, the composition of   legislative seats for the next five years is becoming clear. There will be no new party working in Senayan. The Hanura Party is the only party within the government coalition that is unlikely to get any seats. The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) will keep its power as the biggest party, while NasDem will enjoy a significant increase of votes.  

However, the political dynamics in the legislature will be much different compared to 2014. When elected in 2014, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo did not have a majority in the House of Representatives. It took him over a year to reconfigure the balance of power among political parties and gather support to confidently start making policy decisions. 

Jokowi will most likely have a stronger grip on the House from the very start of his second term, thanks to his success in moving certain pivotal points among political actors beforehand. His coalition is likely to exceed 50 percent of the vote in the legislative election. The Legislative Institutions Law (MD3 Law) combined with the soon to be announced election result will provide his group large control over the seats of legislative speakers. With such strong support in the House, Jokowi has all the power he needs to further a progressive policy agenda. 

In consolidating his power, Golkar’s political maneuvers over the past three years have been particularly significant to Jokowi’s strategy. After having won the second largest share of votes in the 2014 election (14.75 percent) for the then-Prabowo Subianto-Hatta Rajasa ticket, Golkar transitioned into becoming a pivotal player for Jokowi’s coalition. While giving Jokowi additional power in the Cabinet, Golkar was also valuable in driving support for Jokowi in the 2019 election by leveraging its vast political network and campaign machine.

Following several corruption cases involving party leaders such as Setya Novanto and Idrus Marham, Golkar was surprisingly able to maintain its position as one of the top three parties. Although there may be several different explanations for that, being in the government coalition is likely to be one of the more dominant factors. 

Jokowi and Airlangga Hartarto, the new Golkar chairman and industry minister, were often seen making public appearances together. Their closeness can be seen to have benefited both sides. Generally speaking, political support for Prabowo in 2014 that came from Golkar’s base has shifted to Jokowi, thus helping Jokowi’s national campaign team to cater to that portion of the electorate. 

This shows us that partnering with a player such as Golkar has been instrumental to the success of the 2019 election – Jokowi was able to leverage that partnership to attain his second term. So what can we expect from the other parties if we expect neither Jokowi nor Prabowo to run in the next election?

The PDI-P has shown us before that some success can be achieved by being part of the opposition for two straight terms. After having been in the opposition and achieving only the third largest share of votes in 2009, it followed up by winning the next two elections in a row. 

On the other hand, the Democratic Party, the biggest winner of the 2009 election and led by ex-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, experienced a considerable fall in its share of votes in 2014. This is often thought to have been caused by the rampant corruption during the end of the Yudhoyono government. The Democrats eventually chose to abstain from Jokowi’s coalition in 2014, leading to an even smaller share of votes in the 2019 election. These two past examples should alert other parties to strategically choose their side, especially for those outside of Jokowi’s coalition.

Whatever happens in the House, the demand of distribution of power in Jokowi’s next cabinet might become more contentious. Following the unexpectedly positive results from   Golkar and NasDem, they would likely demand a larger allocation of strategic Cabinet positions. Additionally, the National Awakening Party (PKB) and United Development Party (PPP) are likely to demand the same thing, claiming the credit for Muslim votes.

aThus President Jokowi has two main options open. With a strong hold on the House, this is his chance to concentrate fully on the policy agendas with the help of a Cabinet full of technocratic ministers. On the other hand, he also has the opportunity to consolidate his power by currying favor with the different political parties vying for strategic positions in his Cabinet. 

Unlike his first term in 2014, Jokowi no longer needs to take the latter option. There is much progress to be done if he prioritizes his policy agenda. Indonesians have much to gain if he does not get lured into playing a Game of Thrones. 

 

The writer, a graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science, is the director of the Atma Jaya Institute of Public Policy. The views expressed are his own. 

 

This article was published on The Jakarta Post Newspaper, 16th of May 2019. The online version can be accessed here: https://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2019/05/16/what-to-expect-after-the-polls.html

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