Balance of power

Kompas – September 21, 2019

Indonesia’s political parties have revived a proposal to reinstate the GBHN – the Broad Outlines of State Policy – which used to be issued by the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) to guide and direct national development during the New Order dictatorship of former president Suharto.

Reinstating this power – which was revoked by the third constitutional amendment in 2001 – could even see the next president being chosen by MPR rather than directly elected.

It is also reminiscent of the 2014 attempt to abolish direct local elections (which was ultimately defeated) for mayors and governors that was designed to impede future presidential hopefuls outside of the Jakarta political elite such as Widodo from entering the presidential race through regional elections.

While supporters of the proposal argue that this would promote policy consistency and harmonise central and regional governments, many observers see it as an attempt to pressure Widodo to accommodate more political party appointees in the next cabinet or as a move by the parties to tip the balance of power in their favour with an eye on the 2024 elections.