“Anomaly in Indonesian Politics” Normalized?


 

“The Anomaly in Indonesian Politics”, this is how The Jakarta Post, in April last year, called Grace Natalie and her newly founded Indonesian Solidarity Party Grace Natalie(PSI) (LINK), and Partyforumseasia asked whether it would be a niche party or more (LINK). Founder and chairwoman of the new party, 34 year old Grace Natalie, has come a very big step closer to her dream to establish a youthful alternative to the macho-and-money dominated party scene of Indonesia – against the odds of efforts to reduce the number of political parties. On Friday, 7 October, Minister of Law and Human Rights Yasonna H Laoly officially announced that PSI had been granted a legal entity status. Accordingly, it is allowed to contest in the 2019 legislative election.

PSI is meant to be a “party by young people and for the young people”. Accordingly, only people up to the age of 45 maximum can be elected to the party’s boards of management from the national level down to the sub-districts. According to Law No. 2 Year 2011 on political parties, the requirements for registration are the following:

They must have a chapter in all provinces across the country.

At least 75 percent of the total districts/cities within that province must have a party chapter.

At least 50 percent of the total sub-districts within the district/city must have a party chapter.

All local chapters must have an office that can be verified.

Four other parties who applied at the same time have been rejected for not meeting the requirements. Global Indonesian Voices, a startup publication, speculates that about ten new parties will contest in the next elections, due by 2019 (LINK):
“The 10 new parties may include Partai Persatuan Indonesia (Perindo, or Indonesia Unity Party) owned by prominent businessman Hary Tanoesoedibjo; Partai Kedaulatan Bangsa Indonesia Baru (PKBIB, or National Sovereignty Party for New Indonesia) which is jointly formed by Yenny Wahid and Kartika Sjahrir; Partai Nasional Republik (Nasrep, or  Republic National Party) which is owned by Tommy Soeharto; and Partai Solidaritas Indonesia (PSI, or Indonesia Solidarity Party) which was founded by Grace Natalie.”


Grace Natalie, founder and chair of the party, doubly minority with her Chinese and Christian background, is optimistic about the echo among the younger generations, though these days Islamist demonstrations against the similarly minoritarian  Governor of Jakarta, “Ahok“, who is running for re-election, are somewhat alarming.

All over the world, anti-establishment sentiments are encouraging alternative movements and political parties to participate in elections and win. Youngspiration is a new localist party in Hongkong, founded in early 2015, and winning two seats in the Legislative Council (Ledgco) recently. Since both elected members are advocating Hong Kong’s independence from China, the establishment majority of the Legco, last Wednesday 19 October, walked out to prevent the “rebels” from being sworn in.

Maybe the oldest youth party in recent history is Fidesz in Hungary, a party which started in 1988 as a student movement against communism, accepting members only up to 40 in order to exclude any communist turncoat, but morphed in recent years into the role of the dominant and ruling party. Victor Orban, one of the founders, is now Prime Minister of Hungary, and seen by the rest of Europe as an authoritarian right winger.

Partai Solidaritas Indonesia: A Niche Party or More?


Partyforumseasia: Indonesia has been rather radical though quite successful in reducing the number of political parties in the democratic era since the ouster of Suharto. An all too splintered party system is risky for a fledgling democracy in many ways, starting from confusing election outcomes and ending in the lack of transparency about vested interests and problematic interference of business influence. President Widodo’s role as leader of the nation is still heavily handicapped with his lack of a parliamentary majority and continuing infighting in parties like Golkar and PPP, this is why stability of the party system is important. Grace Natalie On this background and given the prevailing practices of funding and money politics it may be rather daring to start a new party from scratch. But the leader and figurehead of the new party, 32 year old Grace Natalie, may have some good arguments for her initiative. “She is young and beautiful. Her political party, Partai Solidaritas Indonesia (PSI), or the Indonesian Solidarity Party, was established only in March this year as an “open, pluralist and nationalist” organization. Yet, about a week ago, 32-year old Grace Natalie, former journalist and television presenter, declared that PSI is ready to contest in the 2019 general election. Claiming to be a party by young people and for the young people, the PSI will early this month (June 2015) formally invite Indonesian citizens to register themselves online with the party if they wish to become its cadres or supporters. Registration is made through its website, intro.psi.or.id.” writes the news startup Global Indonesian Voices (Link).

Good looks are getting more important in politics world wide, though former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra from Thailand is not the best example in this context because she is in trouble now. But there is certainly a groundswell among Indonesian voters against the same old macho and money style politics, especially among younger voters. The young party seems to have met already the rather demanding organizational requirements of the party law. Grace Natalie says that they have already established chapters in all 34 provinces and in almost all of the 412 regencies/cities with around 1,000 cadres at the provincial and regency/city levels. The Jakarta Post calls Grace Natalie “The anomaly in Indonesian politics” (Link). Yes, an anomaly she is, the strong lady in Indonesia’s politics, Megawati Sukarnoputri, chairperson of PDI-P, is known for a rather authoritarian style which reminds of the Suharto years and what socio-political analyst Julia Suryakusuma has described as “State Ibuism” (see link to Inside Indonesia for an update on this concept).