“I really appreciate PAN’s decision to join the government,” President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said during a joint press conference at the State Palace on Wednesday after holding a meeting with PAN chairman Zulkifli Hasan.
After the meeting, which was also attended by pro-government Hanura Party chairman Wiranto, who acted as mediator, Zulkifli denied that there was any deal for Cabinet seats behind PAN’s move.
“PAN put forward politics of nationalism, just as the President said. We did not discuss anything related to the Cabinet,” Zulkifli said.
Although Zulkifli said all of PAN’s executives and members, including its veterans, had given consent for the move, Zulkifli refused to elaborate on the response of the party’s cofounder Amien Rais, who is also Zulkifli’s in-law.
PAN’s decision to jump the KMP ship has put the KMP camp in a brittle state. The opposition coalition is now primarily made up of loyal members of the Gerindra Party, the leading opposition party, and the Islamic Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).
The crippled nature of the KMP has been exacerbated of late because two of its blocks, the Golkar Party and the United Development Party (PPP), have been engulfed in serious tensions recently following internal leadership changes. These changes have caused Golkar and the PPP to gravitate more closely toward the government.
Having officially declared its support for Jokowi, PAN will bring in an additional 48 votes to the existing 208 votes secured by the ruling coalition within the legislative branch.
Gerindra’s Desmond J Mahesa, said that “all decisions within the legislative branch require an agreement between all stakeholders from the legislative body, which comprises 10 political powers and the executive body”.
Desmond, however, slammed PAN’s move to jump ship without “formally informing the Red-and-White Coalition”, although the lawmaker from the House Commission III overseeing law, human rights and security affairs claimed that Gerindra had expected that PAN would eventually “move to the other side”.
Political analyst Hanta Yuda of the Poltracking Institute said on Wednesday that PAN, with its share of 48 seats in the House, had the necessary bargaining power to demand at least two ministerial posts from Jokowi’s administration, adding that PAN’s recent move could trigger another Cabinet shake-up in the future.
“PAN’s move strengthens the government and weakens the already weakened KMP camp,” Hanta said on Wednesday night.
Hanta said further that PAN’s new membership in the government club could also expand its chance to grab more power as well as give the party political benefits such as securing more executive positions in the government for its cadres.
“There are many motives behind a party’s decision to join the government camp and I am not sure where PAN is at now, but another benefit that could result from such a decision is that its members could receive legal protection. Another form of compensation that the party could receive is to benefit more deeply from government policies,” Hanta went on to say.
Despite its strong political bargaining position in the House, Hanta said that PAN chairman Zulkifli Hasan would have to work hard to compete with the leaders of other parties like PDI-P’s Megawati, Nasdem’s Surya Paloh, the National Awakening Party (PKB)’s Muhaimin Iskandar and Hanura’s Wiranto in making political decisions in the government camp.
“A coalition forced together is prone to divorce because the only glue it has is ideology or shared disappointment. Usually, it will face splintered loyalties after an internal leadership change. A government coalition, by contrast, tends to stay together longer because it is united by a sense of shared power,” Hanta stated.
Hanta further argued that PAN could help the government construct good economic policy to help Indonesia recover from its present state of economic uncertainty.
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