Gerindra, PKS expected to remain effective, quality opposition

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Secretary General of Gerindra Party Ahmad Muzani (center), Secretary General of Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) Mustafa Kamal (right), and Secretary General of Berkarya Party Priyo Budi Santoso (left) who are members of Prabowo-Sandi pair's campaign team held a press conference following a closed-door meeting with General Election Commission (KPU) commissioners at KPU Office some time ago (ANTARA FOTO/Aprillio Akbar/foc.
The 2019 presidential election held simultaneously with legislative elections on April 17, 2019, across Indonesia was a long and tiring process with a campaign lasting more than six months, leading to a deeply divided nation.

The elections were considered the world's biggest and most complex single-day vote on April 17, 2019, where 192 million people queued up at some 810 thousand polling stations, resulting in unexpected deaths of some 700 polling officers, mostly after working for two days at a stretch after serving voters on polling day.

The 2019 race was a replay of the contentious 2014 presidential election that exposed the nation's divide, as Joko Widodo (Jokowi) faced retired general Prabowo Subianto.

The General Elections Commission (KPU) announced the final results on May 22, 2019, at 1:28 a.m., declaring that the Jokowi-Maruf Amin pair had secured 85 million votes, or 55.5 percent of the national vote, as compared to contenders Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno who received 68 million votes, or 44.5 percent.

The Jokowi-Amin pair declared victory, while the Prabowo-Sandiaga pair rejected the KPU's official tabulation result and challenged it in the Constitutional Court (MK).

MK's nine judges announced their final ruling session on June 27, 2019, by rejecting in totality the Prabowo-Sandiaga pair's petition.

President-elect Jokowi and Vice President-elect Ma'ruf Amin will soon form a new cabinet for the 2019-2024 period, according to Arsul Sani, deputy chairman of TKN, Jokowi’s national campaign team.

Leaders of the 10 political parties supporting Jokowi’s Indonesia Working Coalition (KIK) are likely to join the new cabinet. These parties are the ruling PDIP, PKB, PPP, Golkar, Nasdem, PSI, Perindo, PKPI, Hanura, and the latest one, PBB.

The Indonesian Justice Prosperity Coalition comprising Gerindra, PKS, PAN, Democratic Party (PD) and Berkarya that carried Prabowo Subianto and his running mate Sandiaga Uno in the 2019 Presidential Election was declared defunct by Subianto, so their leadership could take the next political steps freely, Gerindra Party Secretary General Ahmad Muzani said.

Subianto, the founder of Gerindra Party, issued an apology to his coalition parties and supporters since the struggle to ascertain the truth had been decided by the Constitutional Court and it would obey the decision.

The struggle to save the Indonesian nation, however, is not over and has to be nurtured and fostered so that it continues to survive in the midst of society, according to Muzani.

Gerindra and PKS most likely will continue to be opposition parties. Mardani Ali Sera, although it has not been officially announced, according to the deputy secretary general of PKS. "I personally believe that critical and constructive opposition is the most rational choice for the current condition," Mardani Sera said.

Prabowo Subianto will absorb the aspirations of his supporters and discuss it with Gerindra’s cadres before declaring the party’s stance, according to Andre Rosiade, Deputy Secretary General of Gerindra.

The party has been in the opposition since the start, and it should remain there to make Indonesia’s democracy healthy and to apply the checks and balances for a proper democratic system, Muhammad Syafii, member of the Advisory Board of Gerindra, said. Therefore, the party will decline any offer to be a part of the government, including any ministerial position, he confirmed.

In addition, Pangi Syarwi Chaniago, a political analyst of the Voxpo Center for Research and Consulting, believed that the opposition group plays a paramount role in conducting checks and balances deemed crucial for democracy to thrive.

"The system of checks and balances is deemed necessary to materialize controlled governance so that the government in power does not go off track and act arbitrarily," he remarked.

Chaniago emphasized the need to view the checks and balances mechanism as an integral and inseparable unit of the democratic system. He called for the opposition parties to strengthen themselves to intensify their role in conducting the critical system of checks and balances.

Currently, the coalition of political parties supporting the government in the Parliament is quite dominant, reaching notably 60 percent. Any endeavor to recompose the coalition after the election will indicate the coalition's flagging confidence in its own political power, he remarked.

Moreover, a "recomposition" will hint at an effort to silence the opposition, so that they would no longer be critical against the government, he stated. "Such political intrigue can be averted by forming a permanent and unshakable coalition despite the temptation of power sharing," he noted.

Speaking in connection with an offer made to the Gerindra Party to join the coalition of political parties supporting the Jokowi administration, Chaniago advised the party, founded by Subianto, to refuse it, as it would not be conducive for democracy. Moreover, it will degrade the quality of democracy in Indonesia.

Another political observer, however, opined that if Indonesia's opposition political parties were to constitute only the Gerindra and the Justice Prosperous (PKS), then the system of checks and balances would not be effective.

"If the opposition constitutes only PKS and Gerindra, it would be certain that the government's policies will easily be passed in the Parliament, as the composition is unable to balance the number of executives supported by majority of the political parties," political observer Yusa Djuyandi stated.

The opposition parties should preferably have 45 percent of seats in the Parliament, Djuyandi noted. If only PD and PAN were to remain with Gerindra and the PKS, then the checks and balances mechanism would be ideal, he explained.

However, based on a recent political communication, PD and PAN would likely join the Jokowi administration's political party coalition. Hence, Gerindra and PKS will be the only opposition parties, he confirmed.

In contrast, Ignasius Jaques Juru, researcher of PolGov Research Center of University of Gadjah Mada, stated the opposition, despite comprising only Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) and Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), will remain effective in the Parliament.

"If there is control in terms of the context of 'discourses,' quantity is not relevant, as the important aspect is the quality of the discourses," he told Antara.

Juru cited the example of the PDIP party when it remained in the opposition during the Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) administration and was yet able to have critical discourses.

The opposition is important as long as it manages to produce constructive and critical discourses.

Moreover, the opposition is needed to ensure that the checks and balances mechanism is applied in the deliberative democratic process, so it could demand government policies for meeting the public's aspirations.

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