Jakarta. Despite a win in the legislative election, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle’s victory was not as convincing as many had predicted. The Islamic parties, against all odds, maintained a strong presence on the country’s political landscape.
Meanwhile, the National Awakening Party (PKB), newly established National Democrat (NasDem) and Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) surprised many with their strong performances.
The emergence of Gerindra, especially, has widely opened a chance for the party’s chief patron Prabowo Subianto to compete in the July 9 presidential election.
“We want to give thanks, alhamdulilah, we are grateful, grateful, grateful because the PDI-P [Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle] is ranked first in the quick counts,” Joko Widodo said on Wednesday.
While the PDI-P did emerge victorious according to the latest quick count, its victory was not as large as most predicted. In fact, the party failed to meet its own expectations. The PDI-P’s national coordination meeting (rakornas) set the bar to a lofty 27 percent, but the party managed to clinch only 19 percent of the votes, as shown by most quick count polls.
The so-called Jokowi effect is an over-estimation as Wednesday’s election quick count results showed. A CSIS poll in mid-March indicated that the PDI-P would gain 33.4 percent of the vote due to the Jakarta governor’s presidential nomination. The reality, however, proved otherwise.
One reason cited by analysts for Joko’s popularity failing to help the PDI-P to the extent that was predicted, is that a large portion of voters who support Joko, do not feel the same way about the PDI-P. As the PDI-P failed to grab 25 percent of the vote, nor 20 percent of legislative seats, the party has not met the presidential threshold. Consequently, it will have to form a coalition with one or more parties in order to nominate Joko as its presidential candidate.
Arie Sujito, a political analyst from the Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, suggested that NasDem and the PKB would be the PDI-P’s most likely allies. “NasDem is close to the PDI-P. So is the PKB, it is close to Jokowi,” Arie said.
The comeback of Islamic Parties?
Against the backdrop of corruption cases that shrouded the PKS, and what appeared to be an emergence of secularized youth voters, the Islamic parties have performed above expectation and beyond what most pollsters have predicted.
“It’s surprising. Religious parties were predicted to be in decline, yet they remain strong,” said Boni Hargens, a political analyst from the University of Indonesia.
The United Development Party (PPP) had 6.77 percent at the time of the writing, as opposed to the 5.32 percent it received in 2009. The National Awakening Party (PAN), which received 6.01 percent in the previous election, gained 7.78 percent of the votes in the quick count. The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) was one percentage point down from its 2009 result of 7.88 percent. But considering the many corruption cases it had become entangled with in recent years, the support it received was beyond expectation.
The PKB which has strong ties with Nahdlatul Ulama — the nation’s largest Muslim organization — gained 9.88 percent in the quick count, almost double the 4.95 percent it had in 2009. This is seen as the result of its move to recruit Indonesia’s so-called “dangdut king,” Rhoma Irama, and showcasing an experienced statesman — Mahfud MD — as its main figures.
But Arie took exception with the view that suggests the increase in PKB’s support pointed to a stronger Islamic presence in Indonesian politics.
“Fundamentally, the PKB is not an Islamic party. It is rather inclusive. Although they used their ties with the NU, the PKB is a relatively inclusive party,” he said.
Arie emphasized that despite the PKB’s seemingly good performance, it would be a mistake to think that there was a revival of an Islamic political force in Indonesia. “The proof for that is that the PBB [Crescent Star Party] got only a meager percentage of the votes,” he said.
The PBB is indeed the odd one out. As the only Islamic party that appeared to have failed to meet the required parliamentary threshold of 3.5 percent, the party might not be able to enter the House of Representatives. At the time of writing, the quick count showed that the PBB appeared to have won only 1.60 percent of the vote.
Similarly, the Indonesian Justice and Unity Party (PKPI), appeared to have failed to meet the 3.5 percent parliamentary threshold, with the latest quick count showing that it managed to clinch a mere 1.07 percent.
Strong performance by NasDem and Gerindra
The National Democrat party (NasDem) won 6.78 percent of votes according to the latest quick count, well above pollsters’ predictions in March of 1.5 percent to 4 percent. NasDem’s result exceeded analysts’ expectation considering that it is such a new party.
It is also the only new party that was able to meet qualifications by the General Elections Commission (KPU) to join the election. The Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) — also a relatively new party, which joined the political scene only in 2009 — nearly tripled its support from 4.46 percent in 2009 to 11.85 percent now.
A strong media presence — whether on television or on social media — boosted both the NasDem and Gerindra’s electability to a large extent. “We are ready to form coalition with any parties, including the PDI-P, for the presidential election,” Gerindra’s Prabowo said.
The KPU is expected to announce the official results of the election next month. Nonetheless, experience from past years shows that the quick count results, more often than not, are usually very close to the official results. Chances are, the political parties’ fate are already sealed by Wednesday’s quick count results, political analysts agreed.