Simultaneously Strenuous

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On April 17 this year, Indonesians will elect their president, vice president and local representatives on the same day, a first for Indonesia. We sit down once again with Dr. Djayadi Hanan from Saiful Mujani Research & Consulting (SMRC) and look at how the new “concurrent election” impacts the political landscape, how presidential/legislative thresholds affect political coalitions and parties’ campaign strategies. Here is a breakdown of the essentials for the 2019 election. The links to the podcast are available below.

Effects of Concurrent Election on Coalition Making

  • This year’s election will mark the first time that Indonesia is running a concurrent election, where the presidential and legislative elections (at both the national and regional levels) will be held on the same day–on April 17. It’s a big change to the voting and election process.

  • For the presidential campaigns, this means that coalition building and lobbying had to be done prior to knowing how parties would perform or how many seats they would control based on the legislative election which was traditionally held first.

  • Additionally, the presidential candidates had to be decided much sooner than previous elections and campaigns started earlier and lasted longer. Political coalitions which previously formed only 2-3 months before the election now had to be completed much earlier too --8 months before the election.

Impact of a 20% Presidential Threshold for 2019  

  • The 2017 Election Law established a presidential threshold where only a party or a coalition of parties that currently hold at least 20% of the legislative seats or 25% of the total national votes can nominate a presidential ticket.

  • No single party met the similar threshold in the 2014 election. The Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP), which won the most seats in 2014, only secured 18.9% of the total national votes (19.4% seats).

  • As a result, the ten existing parties were forced to build large coalitions to nominate presidential and vice presidential tickets with PDIP and the Great Indonesian Movement (Gerindra) leading the two coalitions.

  • Coalitions means more vested interests and this affects several aspects:

  1. For the presidential candidates, it gives little room for them to choose their own ideal VP candidate.

  2. For many of the coalition partners, although they had some influence on the VP candidate choice, it was far from ideal for most and none are expected to enjoy a “coattail effect” (see below).

  3. As a result, many of the coalition partners lack the enthusiasm or will to allocate funds for the presidential campaigns but instead likely focus on their own campaigns to win seats in parliament.

Coattail Effect

  • Another reason why parties, except for PDIP and Gerindra, will most likely focus on their own legislative campaigns rather than the presidential campaign is because they may not benefit from a “coattail effect”.

  • A coattail effect is a tendency when a presidential candidate attracts votes for other members of his/her own parties or other associated parties, such as their coalition members.

  • On the one hand, parties may have a chance of benefiting from this effect if their own member is a VP candidate as this would raise the party’s profile and create awareness.

  • On the other hand, neither of Joko Widodo or Prabowo Subianto VP picks hails from the other coalition parties.

  1. Widodo was encouraged to choose cleric Ma’ruf Amin (has ties to PKB party) by various vested interests in his coalition.

  2. Prabowo avoided accepting a VP candidate from his coalition partners and decided on Sandiaga Uno, a senior member of the Gerindra party.

  • The result is that most of the coalition members will focus on their own legislative election efforts, as pouring resources into another party’s presidential campaign isn’t a priority.

4% Parliamentary Threshold

  • Political parties, especially the smaller and medium-sized parties, will focus their resources and funding on gaining seats in the Lower House in the legislative election as there are new parties participating in the election and the increased threshold for House seats is making it more competitive.

  1. There are currently 10 existing parties with 6 new qualified parties joining the 2019 general election.

  2. The parliamentary threshold (PT) has been increased from 3.5% in 2014 to 4%. A PT sets the minimum number of national votes that political parties must obtain in order to secure seats at the parliament.

2019 Election Threatens to Kill Off Several Established Political Parties

  • The previous 3.5% threshold was a challenge for some parties in 2014 and the increase to 4% is threatening the existence of several existing parties. If the threshold is not met, the party will not be awarded any seats in parliament.

Existing parties threatened by the new threshold are:

  1. Government Coalition: The People’s Conscience Party (Hanura), The National Democrats (Nasdem), and the United Development Party (PPP) appear to be the main ones in danger.

  2. Opposition Coalition: the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) could meet the threshold but needs to stay vigilant but the the National Mandate Party (PAN) needs to really work hard to meet it.

  3. Many of the six new parties such as the Indonesian United Indonesia Party (Perindo) and the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) will face an uphill battle to avoid being killed off.

Shawn Corrigan