News / Asia

Indonesian President's 'Team of Rivals' Strategy Said Leading to Deadlock

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (File Photo)
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (File Photo)

Conflicts within the Cabinet of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono have stifled efforts to reform the economy, crack down on corruption and promote pluralism and tolerance. This is the view of some political analysts, who say the president's strategy of forming his own "team of rivals" within his cabinet has weakened his ability to govern. 

Many of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's supporters were disappointed but not surprised by his decision to keep his cabinet intact in spite of widespread speculation about a shake-up in his coalition. Political analysts say this decision reflects more than the president's cautious personality, it also exposes a weakness in the country's democratic system.

Although President Yudhoyono won a landslide re-election victory in 2009, with more than 60 percent of the vote, his Democratic party controls only 25 percent of the seats in parliament. To gain a working majority there, the president invited rival parties to join a grand coalition and awarded Cabinet positions to opposing party officials.

But instead of creating a unified government, political analysts says some Cabinet members and coalition partners are working to undermine the president. Political commentator and longtime supporter of President Yudhoyono Wimar Witoelar is particularly critical of the Minister of Religious Affairs Suryadharma Ali, a member of the Islamic Prosperous Justice Party. He says Ali's support for banning the Ahmadiyah sect contradicts the president's calls for tolerance. Many Muslims consider Ahmadiyah to be against Islam because its members do not believe Mohammad was the last prophet.

"The minister of religion is not only stifling the president's initiative, but he is subverting the desire of the Islam majority which is liberal, which is moderate, and some of them are outright liberal, and being pluralistic - a tradition which we prize most of all besides our democracy," said Suryadharma Ali.

Muhammad Qodari, an analyst with the political polling organization Indo Barometer agrees. He says President Yudhoyono miscalculated by assuming he could ensure political allegiance by giving influential Cabinet positions to rival parties.

"I think one mistake by Yudhoyono is that he always relate the support from his rival parties in parliament to the number of ministers at his own Cabinet," said Muhammad Qodari. "I imagine that Yudhoyono would have done much better if he pick his minister mostly based on their competence and professional background."

Even if some rival party members in the Cabinet are loyal to the president, Witoelar says their counterparts in parliament have hampered the president's efforts to crack down on corruption and reform the economy.

The president and his party have also been tainted by charges of corruption. Investigations into whether Vice President Boediono and then Finance Minister Sri Mulyani were involved in bailing out the Century Bank, in return for campaign donations, dragged on for months. Although the outcome was inconclusive, the president's legislative agenda was put on hold and, in the end, Mulyani resigned to become managing director of the World Bank.

Witoelar says, apart from differing political agendas and personality conflicts, there is a structural problem with the hybrid democratic system in Indonesia that includes both a president and parliament, with no clear majority party.

"We have to preserve both the presidency and the democratic party, but maybe define the rules of play for a multi-party system," said Witoelar. "And, the choice whether this is to be a presidential system like the American system or a parliamentary system like the European, French, British system. Now we are having the worst of both."

Qodari supports a proposed reform to require that parties win at least five percent of the national vote to gain a seat in parliament.

"I would say Indonesia would have a better situation, a simpler political constellation, if let's say there are only five political parties at the parliament and this should be implemented not only at the national level, but also at the local level," said Qodari.

For at least for the remainder of the president's term, he expects the combination of a contentious parliament and an overly cautious president will ensure a slow pace of change.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid