Building a Coalition to Reverse Indonesia’s Indirect Local Election Law

Thanks to, I was able to find a list of all of the DPR members from the 2009-14 session who will also sit in the 2014-19 session, and also a list of their votes on the controversial new local election law.

Put together with a master list of all 2014-19 DPR members, we can create this table.

Party Not in DPR Did Not Vote Direct Elections Indirect Elections Walkout Total
Demokrat 29 1 0 0 31 61
Gerindra 61 0 0 12 0 73
Golkar 49 0 3 39 0 91
Hanura 12 0 4 0 0 16
Nasdem 35 0 0 0 0 35
PAN 27 2 0 20 0 49
PDIP 54 0 55 0 0 109
PKB 30 2 16 0 0 48
PKS 7 1 0 31 0 39
PPP 20 1 0 18 0 39
TOTAL 324 7 78 120 31 560

“Did not vote” includes people who held ministerial positions and people who were currently under investigation for corruption. “Not in DPR” refers to those who are just entering the DPR for the first time in the 2014-19 sitting, and hence were not available to vote on last week’s election law.

Now, my hunch is that the best way to fix this law is not to appeal to either some arcane technicalities of Indonesian interbranch relations, or to appeal for the Constitutional Court to reverse it. It is to have another vote and pass a new law that reverses this one. Doing so, however, will require that the so-called “Red and White Coalition” (Koalisi Merah-Putih) fracture. I consider this likely to happen eventually, but I’m not at all sure when.

Strategically, the best option for Jokowi’s implicit coalition of PDIP, PKB, Hanura, and Nasdem is to add the smallest possible party that will give it a secure legislative majority: a minimum winning coalition. Here are some scenarios, recognizing that some additions to Jokowi’s implicit coalition like Gerindra or PKS are impossible.

Current Scenario
Old PDIP, PKB, Hanura: 77 seats
New PDIP, PKB, Hanura, Nasdem: 131 seats
Total Coalition Seats: 208
Percent: 37.1

Add Golkar
Total Potential Seats: 299
Percent: 53.4

Total Potential Seats: 247
Percent: 44.1

Add Demokrat
Total Potential Seats: 269
Percent: 48

Add PPP + Demokrat
Total Potential Seats: 308
Percent: 55

The simplest strategy is obviously, then, to add Golkar. It helps that Aburizal Bakrie is not particularly popular right now, that Jokowi’s VP is a Golkar stalwart, and that Golkar was the only party that split (even if only a little bit) on the indirect local elections law. That said, fellow political scientist Dan Slater sees more evidence that Demokrat is the way Jokowi will go.

The implicit logic here is that in a highly fractionalized legislature with a presidential system and lots of societal cleavages, an oversized coalition is likely to be more durable. Adding in several smaller parties keeps each one of them at bay, even if it does create a coalition that is larger than the bare minimum and increases the costs of logrolling and horse-trading. Minimum winning coalitions, after all, are only effective if they are secure.

We probably can’t tell what’s going to happen until it’s all over, and things are probably in the works as I write. But I’m watching this very closely, as many Indonesians are.