Coalitional Presidentialism and Party Politics in Jokowi's Indonesia

Categories: Political Parties

Yudhoyono's idea of coalition politics is survival of his presidency. He thought of needing to establish a 'broad parliamentary alliance to protect himself from oppositional attempts at his removal'. The Indonesia constitution constitutes veto power on presidents on all legislation. In line with this, Yudhoyono has the power to utilize the conventional methods in sustaining political alliances. In 2004 and 2009, he offered ministries to all major parties which granted him a 73% and 75% majority in the parliament. Yudhoyono engaged in 'deals between the presidents and legislators in which political support is informally exchanged for economic support, private benefits, or other forms of personal assistance'.

He offered these rewards to secure substantial allegiance among his coalition. On the other hand, Jokowi's actions also led to coalition politics because he also had to ensure his position. Prior to the elections, there were turnout of events against Jokowi's side.

The Kaolisi Merah Putih (KMP) dismissed direct elections of local leaders which guaranteed positions in the parliament and the legislative branch.

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As a result, there was a high probability that there will be no secured seats left for pro-jokowi parties. Hence, Jokowi used alternative tools for the coalition to intervene in the internal affairs of a major party to address the issue on his side. In December 2014, Jokowi let his official be in the saddle. Initially, Jokowi's Minister of Justice and Human Rights, PDIP cadre Yasonna Laoly, declined to offer SK seats to either Bakrie or Laksono. Consequently, In March 2015, Laoly had given SK to Laksono's golkar, recognizing its group as the 'legal representative' of golkar.

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The Minister of Justice and Human Rights grants SK (surat keputusan) to those leaders who seem to acquire legal status.

The SK has the authority to select candidates for local elections. Hence, Jokowi granted Laksono an official concesion. This was a way of Jokowi's intrusion between Bakrie and Laksono's internal conflict. Jokowi used Golkar party's weakness to attract them in his coalition. Barkie is known for being the chairman of the Golkar party. From June to August 2016, a number of leaders were suspended from meetings for contravening Barkie's mandate to be on Prabowo's side in presidential elections. In November 2014, Pro-Jokowi factions were also removed from the party for not abiding by the instructions during the Bali congress held by Bakrie. To strengthen the opposition, Jokowi also organized his own congress in Jakarta. In the congress, he assigned Laksono to be the leader of Golkar and invalidated Barkie's congress. Jokowi has successfully acquired a coalition with Golkar leaders. However, Coalition politics has its own repercussions.

Firstly, it reduces the legitimacy of elections. Elections allow a fair competitive competition among the parties. The primary purpose of election is for the candidates to show their platforms so that the electorate could select a candidate that they think could best represent them and adhere to their needs. In Jokowi's case, he attained a high percentage of support only when he was linked with Golkar. With Golkar party's support, the majority were attracted to be on Jokowi's side.

However, the point of election is to eliminate the losing candidates to attain a seat, if Jokowi continuously provides seats to those who are in opposition, even if the people who were refused to be given a seat will automatically gain a seat without competition. Secondly, it will result in a disproportionate number of seats and 'political turncoatism'. The two parties, Golkar and PDI-P (Indonesian Democratic Party- Struggle) claim to be secular-nationalist groups.

Jokowi formed this coalition in order to earn people's votes. However, the parties have notable differences when it comes to pursuing policies, which means they focus on different sectors of the society. The Golkar party is known for its neoliberal economic policies, while the PDI-P is known for its populist policies. Hence, it will obviously cast a large number of seats for the coalition group leaving a lesser number of seats for the minority and other groups.

According to Mairead Finley, the coalition party will encounter difficulties in making decisions, since the Golkar and PDI-P have varying principles, they will have to address disagreements and compromise their propositions in order to attain consensus for the party. If the party fails to agree on a similar approach, one faction will exert political authority over the other. This could entirely weaken the party because if the faction fails, the other group in the party will refuse to be held accountable.

With this, in the future elections, there is a possibility for the coalition to dissolve and 'political turncoatism' might occur, wherein parties are prone to changing political affiliation. It will be difficult for the electorate if the politicians or political parties keep on changing affiliations. If the propositions of the affiliations are not properly explained, these underlying effects will create confusion among the voters on who to vote during the elections. This will reduce the authenticity of a party that aims to represent a particular sector in the society. Thus, will end up losing in the elections.

In order to prevent these repercussions, there must be a bill that imposes penalties in order to prevent the parties from shifting to one affiliation to another or could also be identified as 'political turncoatism'. Similar to the Philippines' law penalizing 'political turncoatism', the law proposes 4 retributions if proven to be a 'political turncoat'. Firstly, if politicians change parties a year before and after an election, the law proposes that they must be penalized with forfeiture of their public office. Secondly, they are also going to be intercepted from obtaining a seat in the succeeding election after changing parties.

Thirdly, they are proscribed from 'holding public office for three years after the incumbent administration'. Lastly, they are obliged to return 'all amounts received' from their previous party and a 25% surcharge. Jokowi made use of his 'budgetary and legislative powers' to ensure the parties' loyalty to his government. He relied on conventional means to ensure compliance among his members. With this law penalizing 'political turncoats', in the future elections politicians will be constrained from compelling the opposition to form another allegiance despite being offered subsidies.

Updated: Jun 05, 2020
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Coalitional Presidentialism and Party Politics in Jokowi's Indonesia. (2020, May 03). Retrieved from

Coalitional Presidentialism and Party Politics in Jokowi's Indonesia essay
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