Jokowi wins his second term
On April 17, 2019, Indonesia held the largest and most complex one-day election in the world. With over 800,000 polling stations, 193 million voters did not only vote for the presidential elections between President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Prabowo Subianto, but also cast their ballots for legislative elections of representatives in four levels of government, from the national House of Representatives to local councils. The voter turnout is estimated at 83.9%, a significant increase from the previous 72% in the 2014 general elections.
Quick counts from various private polling and survey agencies, show that President Jokowi won around 55% votes, whereas Prabowo gained around 45% votes. Quick count results proved to be accurate in previous elections. The quick count also predicted that nine political parties meet the 4% parliamentary threshold and will secure seats at the House of Representatives. These are all parties currently sitting in the parliament apart from Hanura Party which has been ejected from it. Meanwhile, no new political parties managed to enter the House.
The political parties with the most votes in the current elections, PDI-P and Gerindra, are said to benefit from a coattail effect or an electoral boost due to the popularity of party leaders contending for the presidency, namely Jokowi (not a party leader but is strongly associated with PDI-P) and Prabowo (Gerindra). However, the extent of the coattail effect has been lower than expected.
The General Elections Commission (KPU) is currently counting the vote tally from polling stations across the country and will release the official election results on May 22, 2019 at the latest. Settlement of electoral disputes at the Constitutional Court (MK) will be processed between May 23, 2019 to June 15, 2019. Winners of the presidential election will be inaugurated on October 20, 2019 for a five-year term.
The base of both candidates remain the same in this rematch
When compared to the 2014 elections, it is evident that there is no drastic change of voter preference. Both candidates only managed to solidify their voter stronghold and failed to broaden their voter base during the campaign. Exit polls show that voters were polarized in this elections along religious and cultural lines. This polarization between “secular nationalists” and “religious conservatives” among voters has its origins in early Indonesian history and already manifested itself during the Jakarta Gubernatorial elections in 2017.
According to the exit poll by Indikator Politik Indonesia, 97% of non-Muslim voters polled voted for Jokowi. The same goes for older generations and those with lower education and income level. Most of the Javanese and Bataknese, as well as people living in rural areas are the largest supporters for the winning pair. In contrast, practically all Prabowo’s voters are Muslims, with only 3% of non-Muslims polled saying they voted for him. He was also the choice of younger generations and people with higher income and education levels living in urban areas. Seen by ethnic groups, the Sundanese, Betawi, Acehnese, and Minangkabau people appears to favor Prabowo.
At the elite level, however, such polarization did not take place as Islamic parties also supported Jokowi and his conservative cleric vice-president, Ma’ruf Amin. Proving itself to be a potent vote-getting strategy, it remains to be seen whether this polarization at the grassroots will continue to be exploited by political elites in future elections.
Conflicts unlikely despite Prabowo’s grandstanding
With complete disregard of the quick count results putting Jokowi ahead, Prabowo swiftly declared victory with 63% of votes based on “internal real counts”. By doing so, Prabowo implied to his supporters that any different result by the KPU means that there are frauds and raises the possibility of disputes, if not conflicts. Indeed, before the elections, Amien Rais, founder of PAN Party and a member of Prabowo-Sandi campaign team, already prophesied that the “people’s power” should be called upon in case of frauds and that Prabowo should win unless his opponent is cheating.
In reality, however, all parties agree and accept that election disputes should be solved at the Constitutional Court (MK). Mobilizing the “people’s power” is unlikely to gain momentum and the narrative is getting irrelevant as several elements from Prabowo’s camp already expressed discomfort with such approach. Most notably, Prabowo’s VP, Sandiaga Uno, former president and coalition member, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and Muhammadiyah, one of Indonesia’s large Islamic organizations from which Amien Rais hails, asked to be patient and wait for the KPU results while continuing to monitor the tallying process. The KPU itself, despite its shortcomings, is very transparent and makes all documents available in the public domain for public scrutiny, which helps legitimize the whole process.
According to the Law No. 7/2017 on General Election, any candidates could file an elections dispute (PHPU) lawsuit. However, a PHPU lawsuit requires clear and compelling set of evidence of structured, systematic and massive fraud before the court agrees to hold a trial. Referring back to 2014’s case, the MK rejected Prabowo’s petition due to insufficient evidence. So far, there are no reasons to believe that Prabowo will be able to show the necessary proof to support his claims. Although the elections were far from perfect with reported frauds and irregularities in several polling stations across the country, these problems appear to be minor, sporadic and local in nature.
Bargaining for influence and posts in the coalition
With Jokowi’s reelection, one might ask which ministers will keep their position and which will be replaced by new figures. However, the shape of Jokowi’s next cabinet is still unknown at this stage because it will all depend on the results of negotiations and internal bargaining between coalition parties and other influential figures in Jokowi’s camp. In this new configuration, Jokowi must find a new balance of power and influence between political parties and influential groups in his inner circle. It is expected that negotiations to secure the interests of each party will take place in the months leading to the inauguration date in October and a few weeks after when ministerial positions will be announced.
Although it remains to be seen how many seats will be won by each political party, quick count results already show that some parties like PKS and NasDem have achieved better than previously, while others like Demokrat and Golkar are worse off. This may change the dynamics and bargaining positions of political parties within and outside of the winning coalition. What is certain, Jokowi’s coalition of parties will hold a majority. This is a much better position than at the beginning of Jokowi’s first term where he was supported by a minority in the House of Representatives. Whilst Jokowi will try to accommodate aspirations from his camp, he will most likely be open to other parties, like Demokrat Party, to join his coalition.
Policy implications: more of the same, or better?
It goes without saying that in his second term, Jokowi will do more of the same. He will continue to put attention on his priority issue, e.g. infrastructure development. However, Jokowi has mentioned several times in presidential debates that he will put a bigger attention on other specific issues, such as the development of competitive human resources that are ready to adapt with the era of Industry 4.0. In several opportunities, Jokowi has also mentioned the importance of digital infrastructure, whereas he endorses the importance of digital technologies to be applied in the government to better serve public needs (a concept named “Dilan” or digital melayani), as well as the ongoing construction of a broadband network that aims to expand domestic broadband services nationwide, namely Palapa Ring.
Jokowi’s often criticized reliance on state-owned enterprises is likely to continue in his next administration. In his campaign, Jokowi mentioned his vision to consolidate SOEs under a “super-holding company” that more or less replicates Malaysia’s Khazanah or Singapore’s Temasek. During his first term, he successfully formed several state-owned mining holding companies in several sectors, such as Inalum as the holding entity for mining companies or Semen Indonesia for the cement industry. He is poised to form similar holding companies in the construction, financial, pharmaceutical, and aviation sectors. The formation of holding companies is expected to enable the parent company to leverage assets from its subsidiaries for financing and provides greater freedom from political scrutiny from the parliament. It will help Jokowi materialize his vision to expedite national development with SOEs as the spearhead of national development.
Even though being criticized by his rival on import policy, Jokowi has mentioned several times during presidential debates that imports on food commodity is aimed to ensure the availability of food stock, as well as keeping the price stable. Jokowi’s stance reflects a policy orientation that is open towards global value chains and international cooperation in order to meet domestic needs. This orientation contrasts with the protectionist stances brought forward by Prabowo. In the context of the growing protectionism spearheaded by Trump’s policies globally, this can provide optimism that Jokowi will continue to support liberal trade and cooperation.
At the beginning of his first term, Jokowi had the guts to remove oil subsidies, an important but wildly unpopular policy. Since then however, he arguably made less policy breakthroughs for fear of the electoral impacts it might cause. He even backtracked on oil subsidies last year. Now that he has won his second and final term, it can perhaps be hoped that he will be more courageous in making difficult decisions as he does not have to worry too much about his electability scores anymore. On the other hand, he might also be less incentivized to hear inputs on issues such as human rights, the role of the military or the protection of minority rights as he will be laser-focused on development. Whatever the case, Jokowi’s second term, just like his predecessor SBY’s, will shape his overall legacy.
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