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Evaluating the Labour Party leadership's maneuvers, building real class politics

National Political Committee Statement - May 22, 2024

On May 1, the labour movement and the Indonesian public received some shocking news or reports about a recent maneuver by the Labour Party leadership.

The first news report was a statement by Labour Party President Said Iqbal who declared that the Labour Party and the Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (KSPI) support president elect Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto and vice president elect Gibran Rakabuming Raka, who are scheduled to be inaugurated in October.

Meanwhile the other report was that the president of the Labour Party's founding trade union organisation, the Confederation of the All-Indonesian Workers Union (KSPSI), Andi Gani Nena Wea, had been appointed as a national police expert staff for labour affairs by national police chief General Listyo Sigit Prabowo.

These reports caused controversy and disappointment among the masses and sympathisers of the Labour Party.

The Labour Party, which in the February 2024 presidential and legislative elections took up an independent political class agenda, was seen as breaking with its political principles.

For the masses and sympathisers who supported the Labour Party in the February elections, its working class political agenda was seen as a breath of fresh air for Indonesian politics, because for the first time there was a political party participating in the elections which consciously positioned itself as a vehicle of the working class struggle, the largest class in Indonesian society.

Iqbal's statement and Andi Gani's appointment as part of the national police were seen as evidence of the inconsistency of the Labour Party movement politics. With this move, the Labour Party is considered to have distanced itself from the working class political agenda as a force that could consistently take up the aspirations for change within the Indonesian working class.

Some members of the public saw the maneuver by the Labour Party leadership as being no different from the other political parties that exist in Indonesia, which are nothing more than political vehicles for the elite. While the main task of the Labour Party is to fight for the working class agenda and to realise prosperity for all the Indonesian people.

The Labour Party president's statement in supporting Prabowo and Gibran is quite unfortunate when it should be differentiating itself from the other political parties and a pioneer of change for a prosperous working classes, by positioning itself as an alternative party based on the strength of the working class.

For the National Political Committee (Komite Politik Nasional, Kompolnas), as one of the founders of the Labour Party, one of the problems in the development of post-election political dynamics at the moment is the weakening of the opposition as a control over the performance of the elected government.

As an element within the Labour Party, we see it as important that the Labour Party take a critical position against political leadership produced by the 2024 elections.

The cancellation of the election results or re-running the elections is not possible practically, because there is no force at this time that can impose this on the oligarchy. That is, the current objective conditions force us to accept the election results as they stand, despite the various political and technical problems in its implementation.

That does not mean however that we cannot criticise the political agenda being taken up by the existing national leadership. The National Political Committee is of the view that the Prabowo-Gibran government will not bring many changes to the quality of working class life. On the contrary, the consolidation of oligarchy that supports this government has the potential to deepen the difficulties of life and political restraints that have been experienced by the Indonesian working class.

We also recognise, as a working class organisation that exists within a limited political space where the capitalist-oligarchy class dominates, compromising with the state and elite groups is unavoidable.

In this case, political negotiations between the Labour Party and other social forces can be carried out as long as they do not harm the working class struggle. Negotiative relations must still be anchored to the benefits or advantages that can be gained for the working class struggle and the extent to which the negotiations that take place and the accommodations achieved can strengthen and advance the working class political movements so that they are better and broader.

In this case, we do not see how the maneuvers carried out by the Labour Party leadership meet this political programmatic criteria. In consideration of this, we from the Labour Party National Political Committee state:

1. We are critical of Bung [Brother] Said Iqbal's actions as president of the Labour Party and Andi Gani as the leader of the Indonesian People's Organisation (ORI) and the KSPSI, which are part of the Labour Party, who gave the impression of fully supporting the Prabowo-Gibran electoral ticket and the coalition parties backing them. We think this is incorrect. So a clarification needs to be given to all the internal elements of the Labour Party

2. Prabowo-Gibran and the political parties that back them supported the Omnibus Law on Job Creation that does not side with working people had has expropriated the rights of the working class.

3. The Labour Party should not fully support politicians and the political parties that support the Jobs Law, the destroyers of the environment and human rights (HAM) violators.

4. The Labour Party must continue to stand with the working people, becoming a pioneer of the working class movements and gaining public sympathy to expand the involvement of the working class masses, not instead building patronage relations with those in power, but rather, pushing the political agenda of the working class in the formal and non-formal political arena.

5. Negotiations with the ruling elite are only possible if they can significantly accommodate the agenda of the welfare state and broaden political space for working people. Negotiations that harm or drive back the struggle of the working class are unacceptable.

6. Build internal democracy within the Labour Party to ensure the consistency of the working class political agenda of the party.

Jakarta, May 12, 2024

With respect,

Rivaldi Haryo Seno
Kompolnas Secretary General

Arah Juang is the newspaper of the Socialist Union (PS)

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[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Evaluasi Manuver Politik Pimpinan Partai Buruh! Bangun Politik Kelas yang Hakiki! Bangun Demokrasi Internal Partai!".]

Source: https://www.arahjuang.com/2024/05/22/evaluasi-manuver-politik-pimpinan-partai-buruh-bangun-politik-kelas-yang-hakiki-bangun-demokrasi-internal-partai