Indonesia: People For Megawati, Provinces For Golkar


Professor James Fox

Megawati Sukarnoputri’s victory in the Indonesian elections was, in particular, a triumph in Java and Bali. Her Indonesian Democratic Party with about 38 per cent of the counted vote (to 21 June) had nearly twice the overall popular support of either Golkar or the National Awakening Party (PKB) led by the traditional Muslim leader, Gus Dur. When counting is concluded, neither of these two parties is likely to have more than 20 per cent of the vote.

Yet given Indonesia’s complicated proportional allocation system, this popular vote does not translate into a proportional number of seats in the People’s Consultative Assembly that will choose the President. Fewer votes are needed to gain a seat in Sulawesi, Kalimantan or Irian Jaya than in densely populated Java. It takes 320,000 votes to gain one seat in East Java but only 77,000 for a seat from Irian Jaya. Like Megawati’s Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI-P), Gus Dur’s party’s popular vote was largely in Java, especially in East Java. Golkar’s strategy from the outset, as Indonesia’s ruling party, was to win votes heavily outside Java and it has succeeded in doing just that. This Golkar stategy was particularly successful in eastern Indonesia where the election came down to a two party struggle between Golkar and Megawati’s party.

Overwhelmingly, in Eastern Indonesia, Golkar has triumphed. It has taken a large majority of the seats in the four provinces of Sulawesi, in the province of Nusa Tenggara Barat comprising Lombok and Sumbawa, and in Irian Jaya. Golkar also seems set to take at least half of the seats in Maluku, in the province of Nusa Tenggara Timur, comprising Flores, Sumba and West Timor as well as in East Timor. Golkar has also done well in Sumatra and Kalimantan. Thus, even though Golkar has conceded victory to Megawati in the popular vote, it still claims to have won a majority of the vote in a majority of Indonesia’s provinces.

The Islamic Development Party (PPP) has won a majority of seats only in Aceh and Amien Rais’ party (PAN) may have won a majority in West Sumatra, but even this is uncertain. Nevertheless both parties have polled enough votes in many provinces for each to gain an appreciable block of seats.

The issue is one of establishing a working coalition among parties with different numbers of seats. Megawati’s party (+/- 150) is attempting to establish a coalition between itself, Gus Dur’s party(+/- 48) and Amien Rais’ party (+/- 34). This would be a strong coalition. Golkar (+/-123) appears to have attracted the Islamic Development Party (+/- 50). However, if Gus Dur’s party were to join the Islamic Development Party and if both were to join Golkar on condition that Habibie were not to be the candidate, this coalition would be as strong as Megawati’s coalition.

The military have been allocated a block of 38 seats and are likely to obtain another 15 or more seats from among the 200 additional seats to be distributed to regional and functional groups for the Consultative Assembly. This makes the military a potential determining partner to any coalition. Both sides are now actively wooing the military or rather, different groups within the military while the military have floated the idea a grand coalition of all parties.

WATCHPOINT: The Army definitely - and General Wiranto in particular - will be key players in the formation of the future government of Indonesia.


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