No Indonesian political party managed to secure a majority in the legislative election that was held on Wednesday (09/04). Based on various quick counts (that have proved to be reliable in previous elections), the election was won by the PDI-P (19 percent), followed by Golkar (15 percent) and Gerindra (12 percent). This outcome implies that political parties will need to form coalitions in order to be able to nominate a presidential candidate for Indonesia's presidential election that is scheduled for 9 July 2014.
Based on "Law 42 - 2008 on Presidential Elections", a minimum of 25 percent of the popular vote is required in the legislative election (or twenty percent of seats in the House of Representatives, DPR) to give a political party - or a coalition of political parties - the power to nominate a presidential candidate.
Yesterday, the Indonesian electorate consisted of 185.6 million people (out a total population numbering 250 million people). At stake in Indonesia's legislative election were 560 seats in the House of Representatives (DPR), 132 seats in the Regional Consultative Council (DPD), and about 19,000 local government positions. There is a 3.5 percent parliamentary threshold to secure seats in the parliament. The official outcome of the election is expected to be announced by the General Election Commission (KPU) on 9 May 2014.
Despite securing a clear victory, the Indonesian Democratic Party of struggle (PDI-P), led by Chairwoman Megawati Sukarnoputri, may be disappointed with yesterday's election result. After having nominated highly popular Governor of Jakarta Joko Widodo (better known as Jokowi) as the party's presidential candidate last month, it probably expected to secure a much more impressive victory, at least exceeding the 20 percent threshold, as a vote for PDI-P would imply a vote for Jokowi as next Indonesian president. However, it turned out that the 'Jokowi effect' (which boosted capital inflows on the day that Megawati and Jokowi announced the nomination, thus indicating strong market approval), did not play a role in yesterday's election.
¹ based on quick counts, not the official result
Perhaps it is not too far flung to label the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) - the political vehicle of Prabowo Subianto - as the real winner of the election as the party jumped from 4.5 percent of the popular vote in 2009 (its debut year) to 12 percent in 2014. Prabowo Subianto, a former special forces commander and former son-in-law of Suharto, harbors presidential aspirations of his own. Despite being linked to human rights violations in the late 1990s, he enjoys popularity among the Indonesian people for his 'strong character'. Many Indonesians feel that the country lacks a strong leader since the era of Reformation who can push for more social justice (ironically, one of the targets of Reformation in fact is that the parliament would enhance strength at the expense of the position of president). Subianto is known as a fierce supporter of nationalism and more domestic control over Indonesia's resources (thus he is regarded less open to foreign investment than Jokowi).
Another winner of yesterday's election was the new National Democrat Party (NasDem). This party secured 6.8 percent of the votes (quick count) at its debut. NasDem started as a social organization in 2010 founded by media tycoon Surya Paloh, owner of MetroTV (a 24 hour news station) and Media Indonesia (newspaper). One year later, Paloh founded the NasDem political party which stresses nationalism, social welfare and education. Obviously, his large media empire comes in handy for advertisement purposes (similar to Golkar's Chairman Aburizal Bakrie who also owns a large media empire). The party's 6.8 percent gain in the quick count was a surprise as previous surveys indicated that the party would not secure more than 4 percent of the votes.
Incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party (PD) slid from 20.9 percent of the votes in 2009 to 10 percent in 2014. Despite this large blow, the outcome is actually better than expected as the party had to cope with a couple of highly sensitive corruption scandals in recent years (including the party's Chairman and Treasurer), which resulted in the loss of popular support. The party thus remains a political power beyond the Yudhoyono era, although it remains unknown who will become the party's new leader.
Meanwhile, Islamic parties - although traditionally much less popular than the secular parties (PDI-P, Golkar, Gerindra, Democratic Party, NasDem and Hanura) - performed better than expected in the 2014 parliamentary election. Particularly the National Awakening Party (PKB) performed remarkably well as it jumped from 4.9 percent of the votes in the 2009 election to 9 percent in 2014. The party, which is strongly linked to the Nahdlatul Ulama (abbreviated NU, Indonesia's largest Muslim organization), mentioned Constitutional Court chief Mahfud MD and popular dangdut singer Rhoma Irama as its potential leaders (dangdut is a traditional genre in Indonesian popular music).
As there is no dominant winner, Indonesia's political parties will have to form coalitions in order to nominate a presidential (and vice-presidential) candidate for the July presidential election. This means that in the months ahead there will be considerable bargaining and negotiating among the various parties. As a number of parties contain considerable bargaining power (due to the fragmented election result), it will be interesting to follow these developments.
Outline of Indonesia's legislative branch
The legislative branch is the People’s Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat, abbreviated MPR). It has the power to set or change the Constitution and appoints (or impeaches) the president. The MPR is a bicameral parliament that consists of the People’s Representative Council (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat, abbreviated DPR) and the Regional Representative Council (Dewan Perwakilan Daerah, abbreviated DPD). The DPR, consisting of 560 members, draws up and passes laws, produces the annual budget in cooperation with the president and oversees the general performance of political affairs. It is elected for a five-year term through proportional representation based on general elections. Remarkably, this DPR is notorious due to the frequent occurrences of corruption scandals. This causes that a significant portion of the Indonesian population has lost trust in politicians, which hurts turnout at polling stations during elections as they prefer to golput (abstain from voting or intentionally invalidate the ballot).
The DPD deals with bills, laws and matters related to the regions, thus increasing regional representation at the national level. Every Indonesian province elects four members to the DPD (who serve for a five-year term) on non-partisan basis. As Indonesia contains 33 provinces, the DPD consists of a total of 132 members.