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KMP Durability in Question: From Successions to Coalition Shift

From Azhari Setiawan, Alumni International Relations Faculty of Social UR 2011

From political power perspectives, Indonesian government is divided into two big power of political parties’ coalitions. They are “Koalisi Indonesia Hebat” (Great Indonesia Coalition-KIH) and “Koalisi Indonesia Merah Putih” (Red-white Indonesia Coalition-KMP). Both KMP and KIH nominated their respective 2014-2019 candidate to be the President. Prabowo and Hatta Rajasa were nominated by KMP while Joko Widodo-Jusuf Kalla were nominated by KIH. The latter thenbecame the winner of Indonesia’s Presidential Election last 2014. KMP which has a domination in the Parliament, has declared themselves as the “Opposition” for 2014-2019 period.

However, since last 2014, KMP members have,one by one, moved to Government side. Some movements have been confirmed as an official act while some others are still in serious discourse with long debatable discussions among practitioners, academia, and civilians. The first party moving to KIH side is United Development Party (PPP). They officially declared to join KIH in October 2014. This was followed by the National Mandate Party (PAN)that joinedKIH in September 2015. The dynamics of KMP’s endurance and existence was retested back by Golkar’s political vision shift after internal conflict dubbed as “Munas Bali vs Munas Jakarta”. Recently, there is also a rumor thatthe Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) will join KIH Coalition,but there is no legal or official statement yet.

Theoretically, coalition formation is the heart of politics in multi-party systems. In many countries, the common purpose for parties to make a coalition is forrunning a government. They share the responsibility of converting a wide range of social demands into a manageable sets of state-sanction activities. How coalition members cultivate interests and manage internal conflicts determines the fate and the effectiveness of every governing and/or opposition coalition.

Specification of variables which form the basis of coalition consists of 1) situational variables; 2) compatibility; 3) motivational; and 4) interaction. Situational variables relate to the opportunities like strength and position of parties. Compatibility variables relate to the partners like their ideology, social base or leadership. Motivational refers to propensities, such as desire for self-identity preservation. Interaction variables deals with methods like bargaining strategies.

The engine of coalition is bargaining. Parties should have good bargaining power to achieve and form mutual beneficial agreement within and between the coalitions. Whether it is a governing or opposition coalition, bargaining is a fixed price. This may be the thing that KMP’s leader—Gerindra—does not have. Almost all KMP members may have good similarities with the others by its ideology, identity, and their power in parliament as opposition. But, internal and external frictions among member parties have affected KMP bargaining capability toward stability and durability of coalition. Desire to coalesce with KIH as governing coalition following the party interests to maintain their position in government, has led some KMP members tochoose “to coalesce” as a rational choice for now. Gerindra might have failed to ensure the existence of KMP in government.

The payoff structure (and also mutual interests), shadow of the future, and number of players of KMP don’t show any possibility to survive. Following the facts that there is somewhat high possibility for reshuffle in Jokowi’s administration; mutual interests of some new leadership structures after successions in opposition parties (KMP) members show their motivation to join with the government (KIH). Also, the number of players in parliament showing that KMP is no longer in power have made a new political paradigms for KMP members.

All these parties have something in common related to the political paradigms shift. All of these parties equally have held a succession. All of these successors at the top level significantly also have changed and shifted the paradigm of the parties which also changed the formation of the political coalition of Indonesian Government.

These successions also have been colored by various frictions, conflicts, and dynamics in the internal body. Almost all ofthose frictions and conflicts also have something in common, whether coalesce to Government (KIH) or not. KIH seems too strong to be a rival following some facts that according to somesurvey Joko Widodo’s administration has received good marks and public satisfaction. Coalesce to Government, whether you want it or not, is a rational choice to maintain the Party’s existence and survival. Generally speaking, KMP party’s members have no record of being an opposition before. Gerindra, the leader of coalition, has stated that there is no problem if Gerindrabecome a “lone wolf” opposition in Government. However, a single power opposition might not be feasible.

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