APSN Banner

Analysis: Consolation prize for PDI-P: House speakership

Jakarta Post - March 25, 2024

Tenggara Strategics, Jakarta – It is by far the least powerful job among the country's highest state political institutions, but for the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the position of House speaker may be a consolation prize after emerging as the party with the most votes in the February general elections. But even this is not automatic, depending upon the dictates of other parties.

It is a hattrick for the PDI-P winning the most votes in three successive elections, but it is a sour victory as it lost the much more coveted prize: the presidency.

The PDI-P's candidate Ganjar Pranowo came third and last in the presidential election. That race was won by Prabowo Subianto who ran on Gerindra's ticket but ironically with the support of incumbent president Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, a card-carrying PDI-P member. The PDI-P gave Jokowi the ticket to run and won both in 2014 and 2019.

The PDI-P had its chance but did not grab it when Jokowi maneuvered last year to get the Constitutional Court to bend the rules and let his 36-year-old son Gibran Rakabuming Raka contest the presidential race in spite of his young age. Prabowo was quick on the mark and took Gibran as his running mate, benefitting from Jokowi's popularity. PDI-P matron Megawati Soekarnoputri may regret that loss opportunity. She had the first choice but turned down Gibran, who was then also a PDI-P member.

On Wednesday, the General Elections Commission (KPU) announced the results of the Feb. 14 elections. Besides confirming Prabowo's landslide 58 percent victory, it gave the final results of the legislative elections, with the PDI-P still coming top, albeit with a smaller percentage margin than in 2019. Closing the gap in second is the Golkar Party, which also supported the Prabowo-Gibran ticket.

Share of votes in 2024 legislative election

No PartyVotesPercent
1. PDI-P25,387,27916.73
2. Golkar23,208,65415.29
3. Gerindra20,071,70813.22
4. PKB16,115,65510.62
5. NasDem14,660,5169.66
6. PKS12,781,3538.42
7. Demokrat11,283,1607.43
8. PAN10,984,0037.24
Others 11.39

10 parties failed to make the 4 percent threshold

The KPU still needs to calculate the distribution of the 580 House seats. Under the Open List Proportional Representation electoral system, seats are distributed proportionally based on the results of the election in each of the 84 electoral districts.

Golkar may have won more seats than its share of votes suggests, while the PDI-P may have won proportionally less seats as most of its votes were concentrated in Java. The KPU is expected to announce the seats distribution in the coming week, but most predictions say the PDI-P still has the upper hand, maybe only just, to claim the speakership.

What's More

The House speaker has limited power since he/she will be surrounded by four deputies, and all decisions are collective. The speaker does not enjoy as much of the limelight either, something incumbent Puan Maharani has learned. The daughter of Megawati, Puan dropped her presidential ambitions last year when surveys showed she had low electability.

For now, Golkar and the Gerindra Party say publicly they are not interested in the job, so the coast is clear for the PDI-P to take the prize. This, however, may be more of a sweetener for the PDI-P to accept Prabowo's invitation to join his coalition government.

For now, Megawati is still too angry and upset at being betrayed and upended to make that important decision. Some senior party members are content with the PDI-P playing the role of opposition in the House, but others have said Megawati should accept the olive branch and join the government. If she decides to put the PDI-P in the role of opposition for the next five years, the House speakership could still be easily wrested from the party.

The current law, known as the MD3 law, which was last amended in 2019, says the speakership goes to the party with the most votes. But it had previously been amended several times, depending on the power of the big parties. In 2014, the speakership was wrested from the PDI-P, the party with the most seats, and went to Golkar, after it and other parties maneuvered to amend the law that said the speakership should be determined by a vote by House members.

In spite of pronouncements by Golkar and Gerindra that the PDI-P should take the speakership, the amendment to the MD3 Law is included in the House's 2024 legislative agenda. It is not clear how it made it on the list, which was drawn up in September 2023, but it certainly gives the option for parties to conspire to deny the PDI-P the speakership, again as in 2014.

What we've heard

A source has revealed that president-elect Prabowo Subianto recently met with Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chief treasurer Olly Dondokambey at a hospital in Kebun Jeruk, West Jakarta. Aside from visiting Olly, who was ill at the time, the meeting also involved political discussions regarding the possibility of the PDI-P joining the government instead of becoming the opposition, as suggested by the party's leadership

The source explained that their meeting also aimed to discuss the scenario of the PDI-P reserving the position as the speaker of the House of Representatives. This is because, based on the official vote count by the General Elections Commission (KPU), the PDI-P has been declared as the party with the most votes. "To Prabowo, senior officials of the PDI-P conveyed the importance of the position of the House speaker being held by the winning party," the source said. Based on the official tabulation by the KPU, the PDI-P received the most votes, followed by the Golkar Party in second place and the Gerindra Party in third place. Therefore, the PDI-P is by regulation highly likely to secure the position of House speaker.

On the other hand, Golkar, which supports Prabowo, also has the opportunity to lead the House. According to the prevailing law on the House leadership structure, the MD3 Law, the House speaker position is reserved for the party winning the most votes distributed across most provinces. Golkar, although coming second in terms of vote numbers, is said to have won more provinces, at least 15 provinces, more than the PDI-P.

Sources inside Golkar stated that their party does not have a scenario to seize the position of House speaker from the PDI-P as the winning party. The source mentioned that a situation where the winning party did not hold the position of the House speaker occurred once before in 2014 but it was preceded by a change in the rules.

Currently, according to the source, there is a possibility of revising the MD3 Law to pave the way for Golkar to lead the House. However, revising the law is expected to cause political turmoil. "We will observe the trend because we do not want to trigger unrest after the 2024 election," the source said.

[This content is provided by Tenggara Strategics in collaboration with The Jakarta Post to serve the latest comprehensive and reliable analysis on Indonesia's political and business landscape.]

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/opinion/2024/03/25/analysis-consolation-prize-for-pdi-p-house-speakership.htm