Takeaways from 2014 Indonesian Legislative Election

Indonesia just concluded its legislative election, last Wednesday, 9 April 2014. The quick count result showed the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party – Struggle (PDI-P) is projected to win the election, with 18-20% of votes (around 110-120 seats). So what are the takeaways from this election?

The Winners:

  1. PDI-P, the party will finally return to power after 10 years in opposition. It is a milestone in Indonesia’s democratic consolidation as it shows that it is possible for an opposition party to return to power by electoral means. 
  2. Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) and Prabowo Subianto. The party  may have finished only third place, but  it was the biggest gainer after spectacularly tripled its vote share from 4.46 % in 2009 to at least 12 %. Thanks to what many political analysts called the ’Pabowo Effect’. This result will open a clearer path for Prabowo’s long-awaited presidential bid. 
  3. Islamic parties. Four Islamic parties (PKB,PAN, PKS, and PPP) together surprisingly gathered almost 30% of the vote, up from their 24% combined share in 2009, beating pollsters predictions that they will perform worse or  cannot reach the 3.5% electoral threshold. Even the conservative Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), which was expected to be badly bruised by recent corruption and sex scandals, fell only 1% to just under 7% of the votes. But, it is too early to say that there is a revival of Islamic parties in Indonesia after their long years of decline in previous elections. 
  4. PKB (National Awakening Party). This moderate party, which founded by former President Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid, performed above expectation by winning around 9% of the votes, almost doubled its showing in 2009. Thanks to the popular dangdut singer, Rhoma Irama, whom many political analysts said to have contributed to the party by boosting its electoral result. 
  5. National Democrat Party (NasDem). This newcomer party remarkably won 6-7% of the votes. More impressive than Gerindra 4.46% result in 2009 and nearly matched Democratic Party 7.5% result in 2004. The party’s result was a surprise as there is no dominant popular and charismatic party figure (unlike Gerindra’s Prabowo and Democratic Party’s Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono).

The Losers

  1. PDI-P Presidential Candidate and Governor of Jakarta, Joko Widodo. He is the Winner but also is the Biggest Loser. No Jokowi Effect at all. The result has disappointed  PDI-P, Widodo, and the party’s chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri. In the lead up to the election, some pollsters predicted PDI-P would win around 30-35% of the votes, and the party itself had aimed for 27 per cent, propelled by the so-called ‘Jokowi effect’. There is a rumour of internal party power struggle which led to the disappointing election night. 
  2. Democratic Party. Support for the ruling Democratic Party of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono fell by half.  The party only finished in fourth place, with around 10% of the votes and expected to lose 90 seats. It is a political earthquake or tsunami for the blue party which was paralyzed by recent massive corruption scandals implicating its high profile members including former chairman Anas Urbaningrum and former Minister of Sports and Youth Andi Mallarangeng. 
  3. Future Indonesian Reform – more Fragmented Parliament. Can the next president lead effectively? With the slight difference in votes compared to its rivals, the PDI-P would almost certainly need to form a grand coalition consisting of 4 or 5 parties. Learning from the current shaky coalition, there is a concern that the character of the next coalition would be similar to the current Yudhoyono’s administration, which is liquid, temporary and strongly influenced by short-term interests. Expect possible gridlock if the next government has unreliable coalition partners.
Ericssen is Director of Political Desk at Global Indonesian Voices. He read political science at National University of Singapore (NUS). His main area of studies are Electoral Studies, American Politics, and Indonesian Politics. Ericssen is an avid Manchester United supporter

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