Undermining Democrat is Undermining Democracy
Conquering the Democrat Party—through Moeldoko or ‘defanged’ Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono—for temporary benefits of Jokowi is more than just a power play. It is a betrayal of democracy.
THE forced takeover of the Democrat Party at the extraordinary congress held in Deli Serdang, North Sumatra, was not just the party’s internal ruckus, but a serious threat to democracy.
The ‘encroachment’ set off alarm bells for other political parties or civil organizations that they too are not safe from the government’s intervention. That facilitated by some state officials and a handful of cadres, power can change hands easily. At least they can create prolonged conflicts within a given party or organization that drains its energy and attention.
Moeldoko was elected as the general chairman of the Democrat Party on March 5 in Deli Serdang, North Sumatra, during the extraordinary congress that lasted only an hour and attended by an impromptu board. The congress was marred by the practice of money politics. Moeldoko and his supporters claimed that the bogus congress was legitimate. Currently they are preparing to register the board at the justice and human rights ministry.
Moeldoko’s reckless action should or could have been interrupted earlier after the news of alleged plan to unseat Democrat Party Chair Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono surfaced early February. Moeldoko, for instance, appealed to the regional boards for support in the congress. The Palace and several ministers called the planned ‘takeover’ as party’s internal affair, an inappropriate stance given Moeldoko’s position in President Joko Widodo’s inner circle. Moeldoko’s move shows that Jokowi has failed to defend democracy.
Democrat is not a flawless party. A series of corruption cases involving several cadres when Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was the country’s president contributed to the loss of votes and parliamentary seats in the 2014 and 2019 elections. The party eventually became a family entity when the congress in March 2019 endorsed Agus, the eldest son of Susilo Yudhoyono, as the general chair. Alas, lacking organizational skills, Agus failed to consolidate the cadres. But however bad the situation was, Moeldoko should not have used it to take over the party’s reins.
His action obviously sparked suspicion that it was part of the government’s ploy to defeat the political opposition as Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS) and Democrat Party have stood outside Jokowi’s circle of power.
The government has so far justified all means to pressure those with dissenting opinions. For example, it coerced via social media or criminalized democracy activists who challenged the Job Creation Bill. Such dirty tactics are certainly and extremely dangerous to our democracy.
The President must reverse Moeldoko’s unethical maneuver. Jokowi and his ministers cannot deny the fact that the issue concerns not just the Democrat Party, but the fate of our democracy. The President must order the justice and human rights minister to not endorse the results of the Deli Serdang congress. He must also take immediate actions against Moeldoko who illegally took control of the party which he never served even as a cadre.
It is Jokowi’s call to protect his name as a guardian of democracy. And if he sides with democracy, he should not do so with a motive to make Democrat Party indebted to the government and then turn it into a puppet party that it can steer as it wills. He must save the party for the sake of safeguarding democracy, the best system that led him to presidency. Conquering the Democrat Party through Moeldoko or Agus Harimurti who had been ‘defanged’ for his power is a betrayal of democracy.