Power Struggle among Jokowi’s Coalition Parties to Win MPR Top Seat

Writer: Ameidyo Daud

Editor: Safrezi Fitra

25/7/2019, 04.00 WIB

Institutionally, the People’s Consultative Assembly is the highest in the state structure.

Katadata | Arief Kamaludin
Power Struggle among Jokowi’s Coalition Parties to Win MPR Top Seat.

The People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) chairman seat is one of the positions that are considered vital for political parties to achieve. Members of the Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo-Ma’ruf Amin coalition have expressed their interest in occupying the highest Indonesian institution, such as the National Awakening Party (PKB), the United Development Party (PPP), and Golkar.

Gerindra also expressed its desire to get the top seat in the MPR. This is in line with the coalition plan between Gerindra and the Jokowi government, which is getting stronger now. “The MPR seat is indeed a target. But for the ministerial position, Gerindra has not yet decided how many seats it will ask,” Gerindra Deputy Chairman Arief Poyuono said in Jakarta, Monday (7/22).

PKB Chairman Muhaimin ‘Cak Imin’ Iskandar became the earliest person who is interested in the position. He recently met with the vice president-elect Ma’ruf Amin to smooth his path to the MPR chairman seat for the period of 2019-2024. He had said that he was not interested in joining the cabinet, because he had served as Manpower Minister in the period of 2009-2014. “Taking turns. Let me be in the legislature,” he said some time ago.

Of course, the other elite political parties supporting Jokowi reacted. Golkar was the first to respond, saying the election of the MPR leadership was done by looking at the constellation of seats obtained by the party during the 2019 General Election.

In the 2019 Election, Golkar won a bigger seat than PKB, with 17.23 million votes or 12.31 percent of the total votes. PKB was right below it with 13.57 million votes or 9.69 percent. “We only see the number of seats. In Parliament, the position is based on seats,” Golkar Chairman Airlangga Hartarto said.

PPP Acting Chairman Suharso Monoarfa also expressed his party’s desire to lead the MPR. He said the Jokowi-Ma’ruf coalition needs to revamp its power in the legislature. Therefore, it is reasonable that PPP still has the desire despite achieving the lowest vote in parliament. “Or at least, let us get the MPR deputy chairman seat,” Suharso said on the sidelines of the PPP National Working Meeting last week.

As if adding to the complexity, Democratic Party Deputy Chairman Syarief Hasan was also open to the possibility of his party cadre becoming the MPR chairman. He even shared past experience: the PDI-P cadre, Taufik Kiemas, became the MPR chairman when the party under Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) took control of the House of Representatives (DPR). What happens now is that the PDI-P cadre will become the DPR chairman, so the same thing can turn around. “We have experience dealing with PDIP [DPR-MPR collaboration],” Syarief told Antara.

MPR Chairman becomes an Important Position

According to the Political Observer from Pelita Harapan University Emrus Sihombing, it is reasonable if political parties are currently competing for the MPR chairman seat. This position is very prestigious in the Indonesian constitutional system. Moreover, it is now difficult for political parties to target the DPR leadership position. Based on the Legislative Institution (MD3) Law, the party winning the election is the only one that has the right to get the DPR chairman position. This made the MPR Chairman seat more prestigious to be contested.

The MPR is tasked with changing and stipulating the UUD 1945 (1945 Constitution), inaugurating president and vice president, dismissing president and vice president, appointing vice president as president, and electing vice president who is proposed by president if there is a vacant position. “Institutionally, it [MPR] is the highest position,” Emrus told Katadata.co.id, Tuesday (7/23).

In addition, the MPR chairman seat is also strategic in maintaining political stability, especially if there are demands to amend the UUD 1945 back to its earliest version. Those who sit in the leadership position will become important figures in facing such potential.

For information, the UUD 1945 has been amended four times. First in 1999, second in 2000, third in 2001, and fourth in 2002. The first amendment became the most significant because it changed Article 7 of the UUD 1945, which regulates the president’s maximum term of office to only two periods.

“I cannot say that there are symptoms [amendments], but there could be someone who wants to amend certain articles since the political dynamics are flexible,” he said.

Muhaimin really wanted to occupy the MPR chairman seat because he saw that right now there is an Islamic wave that needs to be offset with Pancasila, the UUD 1945, the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI), and Bhinneka Tunggal Ika. These four pillars of nationality need to be strengthened. “Nahdlatul Ulama [NU] has the tool for it,” said Muhaimin, who claimed to be NU’s representative.

Emrus said anyone can propose candidates for the MPR chairman position and there is no ideal limit on who has the right to take office. However, he reminded that anyone who sits in the chairman and deputy chairman positions must maintain the Indonesian constitution. According to him, there is no need for an amendment to the UUD 1945 at this time. “If it's wrong in amending, it can shift to less productive things.”

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