Golkar shifts allegiances, Jokowi cements parliamentary power

Lauren O'Neil, Senior Consultant

Figure 1: DPR changing composition and alliances

Indon newsletter1 

Following months of internal party wrangling, Indonesia’s Golkar party – the second largest party in the House of Representatives (DPR, the parliament) – appointed former DPR speaker Setya Novanto as its new chairman on 17 May. One of Novanto’s first acts as chairman was to announce that Golkar had officially joined President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo’s ruling Indonesian Democratic Party – Struggle (PDI-P) and its ruling coalition (Great Indonesia coalition) in parliament.

Golkar’s support has now cemented Jokowi’s ruling coalition’s majority in parliament, which now holds 69% of seats (386 of 560 seats, of which Golkar holds 91 seats or 16%). Golkar’s joining of the ruling PDI-P coalition was allegedly orchestrated by Jokowi (and his ally, Co-ordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Panjaitan) and is a major political boost for the president and the PDI-P. Golkar’s defection indicates that Jokowi has effectively consolidated power over parliament and his own PDI-P party (which often does not agree with his positions), but will not guarantee a coherent stance in terms of DPR’s policymaking. While Golkar’s joining of the coalition has essentially provided the PDI-P with control of the DPR and a clearer outlook for overall national political stability, the move is unlikely to enhance or accelerate policymaking because it will not significantly improve the parliament’s entrenched inefficiency.