Indonesia Elections 2014: Rising fears that results may lead to unwieldy coalition

Indonesia Elections 2014: Rising fears that results may lead to unwieldy coalition
PDI-P leads the Indonesian legislative election after a quick count of polls.

INDONESIA - In the previous administration, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono formed a six-party ruling coalition which turned out to be unwieldy, with members often bickering over tough policies.

But the loose grouping also meant that he faced fewer parties in the opposition.

With the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) garnering about 19 per cent of votes in the general election - similar to the result that Dr Yudhoyono's Democratic Party got in 2009 - the question is, will the PDI-P do what the Democrats did?

Yesterday's election will see 10 parties enter Parliament, one more than at present, after they all met the raised threshold of 3.5 per cent of the popular vote needed to take up seats.

So even as the Golkar party's Mr Aburizal Bakrie and Gerindra's Mr Prabowo Subianto say they will contest the July 9 presidential election against the PDI-P's Mr Joko Widodo, neither has excluded the possibility of joining a coalition to run the country if he loses.

"A coalition needs to be formed in Parliament, so that the executive can run smoothly. In other words, the president gets adequate support," Mr Bakrie told reporters yesterday.

Mr Prabowo, making similar remarks, said: "I've always said, our nation's problems are complex. Gerindra wants to be part of the solution and progress so we want to work with whoever."

Asked if this included the PDI-P, he replied: "Why not? ...We should work with anyone who works for the nation's good."

A party, or an alliance of parties, needs at least 25 per cent of the total votes before it can put up a presidential candidate. Alternatively, it needs at least 20 per cent of MPs in the 560-seat national Parliament to do so.

The top three parties, PDI-P, Golkar and Gerindra, are all expected to team up easily with smaller parties to field a presidential candidate, though it is unclear whether the Democratic Party will be able to do so.

PDI-P won 19 per cent of the total votes based on quick counts, lower than its target of 27 per cent.

The weaker result opens up the possibility that former president Megawati Sukarnoputri's PDI-P might need to rope in more partners, which would then make the ruling coalition unwieldy. This also goes against the PDI-P's earlier plan of bringing in as few as two other parties into a coalition.

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