President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo and National Awakening Party (PKB) chairman Muhaimin Iskandar at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta in November last year. (Antara Photo/Puspa Perwitasari)

Cak Imin's Lofty Ambitions


MAY 31, 2019

Jakarta. In the wake of Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's victory in last month's presidential election, National Awakening Party (PKB) chairman Muhaimin "Cak Imin" Iskandar has requested that at least 10 out of the 34 ministries in the president's next cabinet be led by PKB members. 

On a visit to the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on Tuesday, he gave Jokowi a list of 20 names from his party he deems worthy of consideration to be appointed as ministers. 

PKB is one of nine political parties supporting Jokowi in the presidential election. 

Only five of them managed to pass the four-percent parliamentary threshold to secure seats at the House of Representatives (DPR): the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Golkar Party, PKB, National Democratic Party (NasDem) and United Development Party (PPP).

Before Jokowi announced his running mate last year, Cak Imin launched a nationwide campaign dubbed "Join," short for "Jokowi-Cak Imin," to rally support for himself as Jokowi's vice-presidential pick.

He even said then that Jokowi could lose if he did not pick him as his running mate and that PKB might leave the Jokowi coalition.

Baliho Cak Imin, Sukabumi (Twitter/@TitikAsa
A billboard promoting Cak Imin's vice-presidency bid – a common sight all over the country last year – in Sukabumi, West Java. (Photo courtesy of @TitikAsa on Twitter)

When North Sumatra governor and former Army general Edy Rahmayadi stepped down as chairman of the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) in January, Cak Imin also declared his desire to take over the position.

Now that Jokowi has secured a second term, barring an unlikely decision by the Constitutional Court to overturn the election result, Cak Imin is intent on being nominated as the next chairman of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) by the coalition supporting Jokowi and his eventual Muslim cleric running mate Ma'ruf Amin.

Karyono Wibowo, a senior researcher at Indonesia Public Institute, said Cak Imin's demands could potentially cause problems in the coalition.

"Cak Imin's demands for 10 ministers [to be selected by Jokowi] and [for himself to be nominated as] chairman of the MPR [People's Consultative Assembly] are outrageous, unrealistic and simply too greedy," Karyono said on Thursday.

"That would make it difficult for the president to give ministerial seats to [the other] coalition parties and other groups who contributed to the Jokowi-Maruf victory," he added.

The president has the full authority to appoint and dismiss members of his cabinet. But in practice, a president always has to consider the interests of his coalition parties before appointing ministers.

"Aside from [considering] competence, integrity and loyalty... the most important thing [for a president to consider] in appointing ministers is how to prioritize the interests of the coalition and other groups [supporting him]," Karyono said.

According to Karyono, power-sharing is common in any coalition government. "This is where problems are often created. Parties fight each other for ministerial and other [government] positions," he said.

Karyono said the president also has to consider whether or not he wants to accommodate professionals and other parties outside of the ruling coalition in his next government.

"He has to consider accommodating [the interests of] the Democratic Party or PAN [National Mandate Party] to strengthen support in parliament," he said.