The Democrat Party Drama
Moeldoko intervened in leadership maneuvers at the Democrat Party to conduct an extraordinary congress. This could lead to the establishment of a political cartel.
PRESIDENTIAL Chief of Staff Moeldoko should not intervene in the leadership conflict at the Democrat Party to hold an extraordinary congress. This political move could be interpreted as an endeavor by the administration of Joko Widodo to establish a political cartel. If it succeeds, there will be even less control over the power of the government.
The Democrat Party together with the Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS) and the National Mandate Party (PAN) are the only remaining political forces outside the Jokowi administration. They hold a minority of seats in the House of Representatives, only 26 percent. If the 9 percent held by the Democrats can be controlled, the strength of the opposition will become even more meaningless. And this is why Moeldoko’s political maneuvering is a danger to the public.
Indonesian democracy will be threatened if there are no balancing forces outside the government. The government will have no difficulties issuing policies that disadvantage the people. Or conversely, it could ignore important things that it should do. This tendency is apparent even now, when the Democrat Party is still outside the government.
The Jokowi administration built its government by embracing all political forces. He shared out power in the interests of stability. He even included Prabowo Subianto, his opponent in the 2019 presidential election, and the Gerindra Party in the cabinet. As a result, two ministers were caught up in corruption cases in the first year of his second term.
Moreover, Jokowi’s government has a history of intervening in political parties, such as the Golkar Party and the United Development Party (PPP). Both parties are now led by people who have obtained a ‘blessing’ from the government. Now a similar effort seems to be underway to take control of the Democrat Party through Moeldoko. The former commander of the Indonesian Military (TNI) has said that Jokowi knows nothing about his political moves. However, the history of intervention in affairs of other parties means that it is difficult to accept Moeldoko’s claim.
Moeldoko, as a public official, intervened in the leadership dispute in the Democrat Party. Some party members are dissatisfied with the leadership of Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono. It is not surprising that a movement has arisen to depose him. Moeldoko seems to have taken advantage of this opportunity by holding a number of meetings, which were subsequently revealed to the public by Agus Harimurti.
Moeldoko could use a more dignified tactic: join the party and then stand for the chairmanship. After all, he was the TNI commander during the government of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. His good connections with the founders of the Democrat Party could smooth the way for him. Unfortunately, he chose to use the back door.
The leadership of Agus Harimurti is now being tested. He is no longer an army major, the final rank he held before standing for governor of Jakarta in 2017. He also needs to prove that he did not become party leader only because he is the son of party founder Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. He needs to transform the Democrat Party from a ‘personality party’ into a ‘cadre party’.
The Democrat Party was established to support an individual. This tactic succeeded when Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono became president from 2004 to 2014. The Gerindra Party and the National Democrat (NasDem) Party were established for the same reasons. Cadre-based parties include the PKS, the National Awakening Party (PKB) and also two old parties, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the Golkar Party.
Strong democracy is supported by strong political parties that can articulate the views of the masses, not by parties that fade away along with their patrons. Agus Harimurti has an opportunity to strengthen this democracy. His first move should be to resolve without drama the internal rivalry involving Moeldoko.