Fat coalition

Kompas – August 1, 2019

From an oped piece titled Risks of a Fat Coalition

Concern has been expressed in both the Indonesian and foreign mainstream media that President Joko Widodo’s ruling coalition – which now holds around 60 percent of the seats in parliament – has become too “fat”.

Comprising the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the Golkar Party, the National Democratic Party (NasDem), the National Awakening Party (PKB) and the United Development Party (PPP), the ruling coalition has an overwhelming majority controlling some 349 of the 575 seats in the House.

This has given rise to statements that Indonesia will be without an “opposition”, or that there will be no checks-and-balances on the government.

The reality however is that in terms of basic economic policy and political strategy there has been no real opposition in the parliament for at least the last five years.

What disagreements and tensions there has been between the political parties largely reflect rivalries between dynasties, factions and personalities as they squabble over leadership positions or compete for lucrative cabinet posts rather than serious policy differences.