Archive for the 'Elections' Category

Campaign comedy

Patung at IndonesiaMatters, my regular source of information and insightful observations on matters Indonesian, has just made the funniest post to date. It focuses on campaign posters for the April 9 elections. One includes Gandalf – yes Gandalf! Another makes you go: “Is it the Java Man? Is it Superman? No! It’s… GOLKARMAN!!!”. Go see for yourself. Very informative, and a lot of fun. I vote for Patung!

It's... GOLKARMAN!!!

It's... GOLKARMAN!!!

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PDI-P and PKS for President and Veep: Or, William Riker goes to Indonesia

In 1962, political scientist William Riker published The Theory of Political Coalitions. The key idea in this book was that of the minimum winning coalition, for short MWC, which goes like this:

Politicians seek to maximise votes in order to maximise seats in parliament, in order to win the cabinet. The less parties you have to share with, the more seats you get in cabinet. A political coalition is a zero-sum game with (partially) rational actors. Each actor has full information about the weight of other players (coalition building takes place after votes are counted), and parties cannot share a ministerial position. What one actor has, the other loses.

Therefore, parties will seek to form a coalition that is as small as possible, while still winning. That may not be so odd, but Riker went further to say that parties do not give anything for policy, so they will  form whatever coalition they like, regardless of policy.

Now, you might say that this is plain silly. Because we know that parties have profiles, and some profiles just do not match. Would a far-right party gladly join a far-left party if the votes add up? Noo. Besides, if voters are expected to be rational, they would be quick to punish parties that do not keep their promises. You might go on to observe that Riker’s theory actually predicts only few cases. For Riker, though, this was not important. What is important was that his theorem gets you thinking about what explains varying constellations of coalitions, including size and durability.

Political scientists have long pondered his theorem, refining and deepening our understanding of the workings of different systems. They note that a coalition must not only be WINNING, it must also be VIABLE, which often means that members of a coalition must be relatively closely positioned, for instance on a ‘left-right’  policy dimension. They note that a,s a rule of thumb, ruling is costly in terms of votes; voters will usually punish the government in the next elections, hence it can be a good idea for a coalition at the outset to be larger than minimum. Further, there are differences between how influential the government is, as opposed to the opposition. For instance, in the Danish system, we had a minority government for several years taking the lead on fiscal and monetary policy while largely following the word of the opposition as regards foreign policy. All these points, and more like them, help to explain why only a small number of actual coalitions resemble the minimum winning coalition in Riker’s understanding.

Every now and then, however, political events present us with what seems at the outset a pure form of Riker’s minimum winning coalition. The most recent I have seen is this Jakarta Post article reporting that in the upcoming presidential elections, a coalition between PDI-P (People’s Democratic Party of Struggle) and PKS (Prosperous Justice Party) fares very well in a poll.

The poll says that Susilo, the incumbent president, is the most popular presidential candidate, but that with his current vice president, Jusuf Kalla, the team would only get 20 per cent. With Yogyakarta sultan Hamengkubuwono X, Susilo should get ten percentage points more, but still be behind the pair of Megawati of PDI-P and Hidayat Nuw Wahid of PKS.

As the Jakarta Post article states:

“Indonesian Science Institute (LIPI) researcher Alfan Alfian said the Puskaptis survey was suggesting an almost unthinkable coalition of the PDI-P and the PKS in the presidential election. “It is interesting because the two parties promote different ideologies,” he said.”

The response, so far, from PDI-P is:

“We will study the survey, including its methodology and respondents… We will open our minds to public aspirations, including opinion surveys. We want to know the public’s response if Megawati pairs with Hidayat, Akbar Tanjung, Sultan or Kalla.

He slept on the floor

What news, what news! West Java deputy governor Dede Yusuf, on visiting a village in Sukabumi chose to sleep on the floor in the home a local resident, rather than stay in a hotel.

Viewed as a political strategy it seems highly effective. Former actor, martial arts champion, handsome selebriti now politician Dede Yusuf has glamour by the tonnes about him, yet elicits humility and respect for the common man. Great story; easily written (newspapers don’t need to send out a reporter), easily understood (“now that’s a guy you can trust”), and easily retold.

Therefore I think there are some important potential consequences of PKS and PAN pursuing this strategy.

Related discussion here

PKS and PAN win the governorship of West Java

West Java is the most populous of Indonesia’s 33 provinces. On Sunday gubernatorial elections were held in the province with a somewhat surprising result. According to Indonesian Survey Institute polls, the ‘HADE pair’ Ahmad Heryawan and Dede Yusuf from the Prosperous Justice Party and National Mandate Party, respectively, have won almost 40 per cent of the vote. Incumbent governor Danny Setiawan from Golkar came second with his running mate, Agum Gumelar.

Generally the turn-out for the election was low, only some 35 per cent of the voters, so the party who could move their supporters all the way to the voting booth had a strong hand. Opinion polls prior to the elections had found a much stronger support for Golkar and PDI-P than the final result.
Continue reading ‘PKS and PAN win the governorship of West Java’