A Burning Bridge? Jokowi-PDI-P Saga Post-2024 Presidential Election

Joko Widodo, Megawati Soekarno Putri and Ganjar Pranowo during friendly times. Credit: Kompas.id


Prabowo-Gibran’s victory in the 2024 Presidential Election, with 58% of the total votes, could influence the future relationship between President Joko Widodo and his party, PDI-P. The former seems to have a decent post-presidency prospect in the next government, while the latter is more likely to function as an opposition. The PDI-P-Jokowi tension has been heating up long before the election and reaching its peak during and after the election.

Before this transpired, a series of occasions indicated internal party friction. In 2015, the party’s chairman, Megawati Soekarnoputri, frequently reminded its members during internal party meetings that PDI-P’s status is above the government and all party members will always be party officials, even though one is a President. She also insisted that Jokowi was just a regular party member without PDI-P. This statement annoyed Jokowi as the media still portrayed him as the party’s puppet. Subsequently, Jokowi appeared to behave differently towards PDIP, slowly distancing away from the party and wielding his power beyond the party as indicated in the recent election.

Jokowi’s presidency and administration will end soon as Prabowo-Gibran will be the official successors in October 2024. It also means that in a few months, PDI-P will no longer be on the government’s side as they are the winning party in the state parliament. In the next five years, this party will act as an opposition; a similar function to 2004-2014 during President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s tenure (SBY). Thus, the political landscape in Indonesia is set to change with PDI-P likely to lead the opposition together with Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa (PKB), Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (PKS) and Nasdem Party. This consequently spells the continuation of the Jokowi-PDIP.

The Crack Inside Government

During the ten years of Jokowi’s administration, Megawati was very critical of his policies and had publicly expressed her disappointment. An example is Jokowi’s appointment of those he deemed reliable as key ministers in his rather than senior members of PDI-P. The current Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Panjaitan (LBP), is heavily relied on by Jokowi, due to their close ties since Jokowi was a mayor in Solo. Arguably, LBP is among those with whom PDI-P disagrees with for inclusion into Jokowi’s administration. LPB had played a massive role in narrating the election postponement as well as sounding the idea for the third term of Jokowi as President, which further distanced relations between Jokowi and PDI-P.

Jokowi’s reliable ministers have also offered him a clear post-presidency prospect rather than PDI-P. Seeking political power after stepping down from the presidency through his son is a rational decision, yet it created factions inside the party. Although PDI-P has been a political vehicle for him in the last two decades and Jokowi wining all the elections he contested, PDI-P’s support for him has not only waned but also deteriorated to vocal criticisms.

Therefore, Jokowi’s attitude towards PDI-P indicates that he does not want to regarded as an ordinary member of the party once he steps down from the Presidential Palace. As long as Soekarno’s family members, such as Megawati Soekarnoputri and Puan Maharani, is in charge, Jokowi cannot lead the party. Instead, Jokowi is more likely to be a party chairman of Gerindra or Golongan Karya (Golkar), two big players in the Prabowo-Gibran coalition.

The current relations between Jokowi and PDIP create a crack inside the government, impacting the change of current government officials. While senior members of PDI-P are still in their respective ministerial positions, Jokowi added the chairman of Democrat Party, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono (AHY) as a new minister. Being granted a Cabinet position, Democrat Party, a party in the Prabowo-Gibran coalition, has returned to be part of the government after nine years as an opposition.

Democrat Party and PDI-P has hardly been friendly towards each other as demonstrated by the decades long frosty relationship between Megawati and former Democrat Party’s chairman, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY). Therefore, Democrat Party could not or at least would not join the government as long as Megawati is still in charge. Interestingly, Jokowi has chosen such bold step to show his position by opposing Megawati’s stance with the appointment of AHY as minister.

Jokowi-PDI-P: A Burning Bridge?  

Further deterioration is envisaged due to several critical factors. First, the unforgettable 2024 Presidential Election, with plenty of controversies and changes in regulation, will be regarded as a means to weaken PDI-P. In this election, votes for the party declined, and their Presidential candidates received the lowest votes at 16%. Such systemic loss cost PDI-P a crucial position in the government side.

One of the controversies was the social assistance program known as bansos distributed days before the election day. While this program was intended to assist the less fortunate throughout the archipelago, it cannot be dissociated from the notion that the program was to indirectly facilitate support for Prabowo-Gibran. This was attributed to Minister of Finance, Sri Mulyani, allocating the state’s budget to distribute for this program under the instructions of Jokowi.

Notably, the Minister of Social Affairs, Tri Risma Harini who is a PDI-P cadre, was not involved despite his ministry being responsible for implementing the program. This demonstrated Jokowi’s intentional exclusion of PDI-P-associated ministers from state project in critical days before the election. Moreover, ostensibly in an attempt to break the party’s grip on its strongholds, Jokowi increased the volume of social assistance especially in the Central Java and East Java regions.

Second, PDI-P is slated to be a strong opposition against the upcoming Prabowo’s administration. Being in the government, PDI-P is aware of efforts to stymy the oppossition such as the use of the current state budget and the lack of state officials who oppose the government. Interestingly, while Jokowi’s and Gibran’s PDI-P party status are still unclear as no official resignations have been announced, the duo would be part of the upcoming government.

PDI-P is also unlikely to join the government for various reasons. In his latest maneuvers, the relationship between Golkar and Jokowi is strengthening rather than PDI-P and the latter. Additionally, Partai Solidaritas Indonesia (PSI), a party in the Prabowo-Gibran coalition, has recently reported PDI-P cadre, Ganjar Pranowo who ran in the election, to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) on suspicion of corruption. PDI-P’s disappointment with Jokowi could stem from his silence over the matter. Collectively, Jokowi’s relationship with PDI-P is bound to deteriorate with the former favoring Prabowo-Gibran; outweighing his loyalty to PDI-P. An important question to ask is whether the bridge between Jokowi and PDI-P is set to burn? In other words, could it culminate to a burnt relationship as exemplified by the PDI-P-Democrat Party relationship?

The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of STRAT.O.SPHERE CONSULTING PTE LTD.

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  • M. Anas Mahfudhi is the Executive Director of Political Research and Democracy Center, Jakarta. He is also a Postgraduate Alumni from University of Indonesia.

  • Ahalla Tsauro is a researcher at KIPRAH (Konsorsium Peneliti dan Pemberdaya untuk Kesejahteraan), Jakarta. He is also a MA Graduate from National University of Singapore.