‘Jokowi’ effect falls flat for PDI-P in Indonesia election results


Despite polls that showed Indonesia’s opposition Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P, Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan) would win what amounts to a landslide victory in Indonesia’s parliamentary elections today on the strength of its president candidate Joko Widodo (‘Jokowi’), it won something more like a conventional victory, disappointing fans — and demonstrating that Jokowi’s win in the July 9 presidential election, though likely, isn’t certain.Indonesia Flag

Final election results and allocations of seats in the Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat (DPR, People’s Representative Council) won’t be available until May. But quick counts conducted by several media and other groups show that, despite predictions, the PDI-P may not have even reached the 20% hurdle in the national vote that would allow it to nominate Jokowi for president without another party as its ally.

Here’s the count from Indonesia’s Centre for Strategic and International Studies:

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In brief, here’s a look at the winners and losers:


Joko Widodo. The governor of Jakarta, who only became the PDI-P’s official choice for president late last month, remains the odds-on favorite to win the July 9 presidential election (with a September runoff if he fails to win 50% of the vote). Though it didn’t win the 30% or more that some polls were forecasting in the national vote,  the PDI-P isn’t as popular as its star presidential candidate. In the rest of April and May, nearly every other political party in Indonesia will be clamoring to join forces with Jokowi in advance of the July race.

Indonesia’s Islamist parties. Polls showed that Indonesia’s four Islamist parties, which have increasingly been drawn into a tighter coalition with outgoing president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s government over the past decade, would do poorly — some of them were in danger of falling below the 3.5% national threshold for winning seats in the DPR. The CSIS quick count shows that the four main Islamist parties won 30.23% in 2014, which would be a minor improvement on the 30.18% they won in the previous 2009 parliamentary elections. To the extent Indonesians wanted to punish the outgoing government, the Islamist parties have escaped their wrath.

Golkar. Even in a ‘change’ election, it’s telling that the two parties that won the greatest support are the two parties that controlled Indonesia for its first half-century after independence, Sukarno’s PDI-P and Suharto’s Golkar (Partai Golongan Karya, Party of the Functional Groups). Golkar, though it has also supported the government for the past decade, polled just 5% below the PDI-P. What’s more, three additional parties are essentially personalized spinoffs from Golkar — Prabowo Subianto’s nationalist Gerindra (Partai Gerakan Indonesia Raya, the Great Indonesia Movement Party), Surya Paloh’s Nasdem (Partai Nasdem) and Hanura (Partai Hati Nurani Rakyat, The People’s Conscience Party), founded by Wiranto, the former, controversial general. That makes its potential voter base even larger than the PDI-P.

Gerindra. Gerindra is currently Indonesia’s second-largest opposition party (after the PDI-P), and it managed  double its support from 2009. That’s largely due to the economic nationalist tone that it’s taken recently, including its strident support for a law that restricts the export of mineral ores from Indonesia. It doesn’t hurt that Gerindra made a smart bet in 2012 by teaming up with Jokowi in the Jakarta gubernatorial election — if Jokowi wins the presidential election, Gerindra’s Basuki Tjahaja Purnama will assume the high-profile governorship.

Prabowo Subianto. The leader of Gerindra, who ran for vice president in 2009 as the running mate of the PDI-P’s Megawati Sukarnoputri, seems poised to become the strongest challenger to Jokowi’s presidential bid. Golkar’s presidential candidate Aburizal Bakrie could certainly wage a strong campaign as well, though he remains plagued by allegations that one of his companies contributed to a 2006 mud flow disaster in Lapindo.

The National Awakening Party. If the quick count is accurate, the Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa (PKB, National Awakening Party) was the most successful of the Islamist parties, also doubling its support from 2009 and nearly knocking the governing Partai Demokrat (Democratic Party) into fifth place. It’s one of the two more established Islamist parties, and it has close ties to Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), a Sunni Islam group founded in 1926. It’s the party of Indonesia’s only Islamist president, Abdurrahman Wahid (also known as Gus Dur), who governed between 1999 and 2001 in alliance with the PDI-P.


Joko Widodo. Though he’s still the candidate to beat in July for the Indonesian presidency, there’s no doubt that today’s result complicates matters for Jokowi. It dents the notion that he’s so  popular that his coattails can conjure a large majority for the PDI-P. It seems very likely that the PDI-P has failed to win 25% of the national vote or win 20% of all the seats in the DPR. That means Jokowi will be legally obligated to form an alliance with another party, and that will almost certainly require that Jokowi’s running mate be selected from outside the PDI-P.

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the Democratic Party. To the extent there’s a clear loser in today’s vote, it’s the outgoing president. His party will fall to fourth place (almost fifth place behind the PKB). That makes it almost certain that the Democrats won’t field their own presidential candidate in 2014. Though the idea of a Democratic Party untainted with Indonesia’s autocratic past was incredibly vital in 2004, when Yudhoyono first won election as president, Indonesian democracy seems much stronger a decade later. It’s hard to see what kind of future the Democratic Party necessarily has in the post-Yudhoyono era. Its best bet might be linking up with Jokowi.

Megawati Sukarnoputri. The undisputed power of the PDI-P, Megawati waited until the last weeks of the parliamentary campaign to announce that Jokowi would be the party’s presidential candidate. That seemed like a good idea — you wonder how today’s election might have turned out if she hadn’t tied the PDI-P’s parliamentary campaign to Jokowi. The daughter of Sukarno, Indonesia’s first post-independence leader, Megawati served as president between 2001 and 2004, though she lost bids in 2004 and 2009 and most certainly hoped for one more run in 2014. But to the extent that PDI-P is less popular, as a party, than Jokowi, it demonstrates that Megawati’s political capital isn’t strong.

Reforms between 2014 and 2019. If the PDI-P had garnered a strong showing in today’s parliamentary election, it would have had the basis for the strongest Indonesian government since Suharto’s fall in 1998. One of the restraints of the Yudhoyono era has been that his coalition, which includes Democrats, the four main Islamist parties and Golkar, could never agree on any major reforms. But it doesn’t seem like the next Indonesian president will have much greater leeway. If Jokowi wins, he’ll need the support of at least two or three parties — and the fragmentation of Indonesia’s politics could continue to limit the potential of passing major economic reforms.

Wiranto. The controversial general left Golkar to found Hanura in 2006 as a vehicle to run for the presidency. Hanura, however, has lost ground compared to the 2009 election, and it might yet fail to pass the 3.5% hurdle. In either case, it makes it less likely that Wiranto, who is accused of human rights violations in his time as Suharto’s army chief (including in East Timor), will make it to the July presidential ballot. 

Photo credit to Tempo/Wisnu Agung Prasetyo.

2 thoughts on “‘Jokowi’ effect falls flat for PDI-P in Indonesia election results”

  1. Jika Jokowi Jadi Presiden, Ia Hanya Jadi Boneka PDIP.

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  2. In fact, from a “Quick-Count” simulation of electoral data, it looks like PDI-P should just squeak through to get more than the required 20% of seats to nominate a ticket by itself. Not an overwhelming mandate, admittedly . . .

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