E9: Solving The Political Rubik's Cube

Indonesia In-depth podcast sat with one of the most sought after Indonesian political experts, Dr. Djayadi Hanan, to solve Indonesia’s political Rubik’s Cube. We cover all the important elements of the 2018 regional elections, the political party dynamics, the political battle for House seats in 2019, which parties are set to become extinct as well as the Widodo - Prabowo contest for the presidency. It’s a full episode and your go-to guide for understanding Indonesian politics. It’s available free on iTunes and Google Play and links are below. Here are the key takeaways:

Widodo Offer For Prabowo To Be VP Is Tempting But Difficult

  • Widodo hoping to create a sole ticket for the 2019 race, has outreached to Prabowo and offered to negotiate a deal to have him as VP.

  • Such a deal could be difficult to execute for 3 reasons: 1. Many senior PDIP members against the idea. 2. Key government coalition member, Golkar, is lobbying against it. This party has worked hard in supporting the president and would be on the loosing end of such a deal. 3 Prabowo is the brand for Gerindra and accepting the VP seat could negatively impact party members running for the House in 2019.

More than Two Presidential Tickets Will be Difficult 

  • PDIP coalition versus Gerindra coalition. Prabowo Subianto has yet to officially declare his candidacy for 2019. He needs to build his party coalition to meet requirements to run. Still eyeing PKS and PAN parties but many factors to consider. Deadline to declare is August 4, 2018.

  • Remains unknown if Prabowo will run himself or attempt to be “king maker” in next election.

  • Democrats still lobbying both Widodo and Gerindra but leaning towards supporting Widodo if SBY's son, Agus, can be VP or senior minister in next administration. 

Expected Campaign Issues for Presidential Election in 2019

  • Likely campaign issues to be used against the incumbent Widodo: that he is a communist, questioning president’s Islamic credentials, that Widodo is over reliant on Chinese loans for infrastructure etc, the government’s growing debt (29% to GDP) and portraying him as weak with responding to terrorist attacks.

Several Established Political Parties Could become Extinct in 2019

  • The new 4% (5 million) of total national votes threshold requirement for political parties to obtain House seats in 2019 election is threatening several new and existing parties with extinction.

  • Key parties likely to have difficulty reaching the 4% threshold are:

  • National Mandate Party (PAN), Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), National Democrats (Nasdem) and United Development Party (PPP) and The People’s Conscience Party (Hanura), and more. Nasdem might meet the threshold and PKS needs to work hard. Hanura, Pan and PPP are in the most trouble it appears.

Regional Elections in June 2018

  • Key regions to watch: West Java (33 million voters), Central Java (27 million), East Java (30 million voters) and North Sumatra (9 million).

  • Government and opposition political parties partner together in various coalitions in most regions making battle lines less obvious. PDIP + Gerindra coalition in East Java for example.

  • Result = Difficult for parties to claim wins based on their own party’s performance and use that as a boost for 2019 general and presidential elections

  • No strong evidence on the use of identity politics or political Islam in local campaigns as in Jakarta 2017 gubernatorial election due to less polarization and clear battle lines.

  • Result = Many votes will be scattered across 16 competing parties resulting in up to potentially 7 parties failing to meet threshold. Unclear is this will streamline House deliberations/negotiations in future.