Democratic Party’s Internal Power Struggle

Writer: Ameidyo Daud

Editor: Safrezi Fitra

19/6/2019, 18.59 WIB

Some senior politicians had declared the moral movement to save Democratic Party and encouraged an extraordinary congress.

Kampanye Partai Demokrat

The Democratic Party’s internals suddenly warmed up after the 2019 General Election. One of its senior politicians, Max Sopacua, proposed a succession of leadership through Extraordinary Congress (KLB). This was conveyed during the declaration of Moral Movement to Save Democratic Party (GMPPD).

Max also criticized the Deputy Secretary General Andi Arief and Rachland Nashidik as well as the Legal and Advocacy Division Chairman Ferdinand Hutahaean. According to him, they often cause a stir within the party. “It is not in accordance with the Democratic Party’s spirit, character and identity," Max said last weekend.

Ahmad Mubarok, another senior politician who joined the GMPPD declaration, said congress is one of the steps to save the party in the upcoming 2024 election. In fact, the Head of the Democratic Party’s Joint Election Command (Kogasma) Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono (AHY) is said to have the chance to replace his father Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) as General Chairman. “In the end, an organizational forum for organizational reform,” Mubarok who is also one of the party’s founders said.

Afterwards, Andi Arief responded fiercely to the criticism. In his Twitter account, Andi mentioned that Max’s steps along with Ahmad Mubarok and Subur Sembiring to invoke conflict were inappropriate as the Democratic Party is still mourning the death of SBY’s wife, Kristian Herrawati (Ani) Yudhoyono. “I have never seen Mubarok, Max Sopacua, and Subur Sembiring do something for the party,” he said.

Furthermore, the former presidential special staff during SBY’s reign said Mubarok and Max tried to realize the congress in order to push the chairman position to a person who resembles Gatot Nurmantyo or Sandiaga Uno. He even accused the two of being political brokers. “Being a broker is often profitable, but Sandi Uno or Gatot Nurmantyo is not a fool who can be deceived,” he said.

In the aftermath of the conflict, the party’s Honorary Council (Wanhor) was forced to issue four advisories to be obeyed by all its cadres. First, cadres are asked not to talk about the KLB. Second, cadres are asked not to make any communication about internal topics, including in press conference.

Third, each cadre can report another cadre to the council if his/her behavior does not comply with the party’s code of ethics, rules of association and internal bylaws (AD/ART), and integrity pacts. Fourth, the council will summon all parties involved in the conflict to extract any information. “For the time being, I have nothing [to explain] beyond that,” Amir said.

Meanwhile, Ferdinand said the Honorary Council has begun working to resolve the existing problems, but he claimed that he could not convey to what extent the process of neutralizing the internal conflict. “Please go directly to the Honorary Council Chairman,” Ferdinand told, Tuesday (6/18).

Two Factions in the Democratic Party

Political observer from the State Islamic University (UIN) Adi Prayitno said the internal conflict in the Democratic Party is a manifestation of the growing dynamics between junior faction and senior faction. Max Sopacua and Ahmad Mubarok represent the senior faction, while Andi Arief and Rachland Nashidik represent junior faction. “This happened for the first time in the Democratic Party,” Adi told on Monday (6/17).

The dynamic allegedly happened because of two things. First, the party’s electability has dropped to 7.7 percent. Second, there are maneuvers from the party’s caretakers who left the Prabowo-Sandiaga camp even though the dispute resolution process in the Constitutional Court has not yet ended.

“Moreover, the Democratic Party’s votes were actually dropped after two periods [elections] and was overtaken by the National Awakening Party (PKB) and Nasdem,” he said.

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Adi also said that now is the time for the Democratic Party to consolidate internally in order to determine its direction. There are two available choices: still using SBY as a symbol or trying to give AHY a chance as the party’s leader in order to have experience for the 2024 election. “The reason is that the next five years are unpredictable. Many regional heads or ministers during the Jokowi’s era have high achievements,” he said.

Charta Politika Executive Director Yunarto Wijaya disagrees with the existence of the senior-junior faction even though the party’s has always had groups in it. He believes the dynamic is part of political bargaining against SBY. Moreover, he added, Max and Mubarok camps seemed invisible lately in the circle of the Democratic Party’s elite.

“So this is an attempt to shift other factions such as Andi, Ferdinand, and Rachland,” Yunarto told, Tuesday (6/18). “Is it intended to shake SBY’s position? I don't think so.”

Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono (AHY)
Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono (AHY) (ANTARA FOTO/ANIS EFIZUDIN)

However, this is the moment where the Democratic Party affirms the leadership ahead. In particular, he said that the party currently needs to choose whether to continue to use SBY as a symbol and keep AHY under his father’s shadow or promote AHY as new chairman. According to Yunarto, the dynamic is reasonable considering that the political situation will be harder in 2024. Those who control the party will have the chance to become president. This is why the internal battles get harder.

Another political observer Fahry Ali stated that SBY needs to be careful if he wants to renew the party’s generation by making AHY as the leader. Based on the previous experience, Anas Urbaningrum was unexpectedly able to become the Chairman of Democratic Party even though at that time SBY and his family supported Andi Mallarangeng.

“It shows that individuals at the middle level are capable of breaking down the scenario,” Fahry who had served as political observer at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) said.

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