Department of Political Science
National Chung Cheng University
Palgrave Studies in Presidential Politics
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1 Presidents, Uniﬁed Government, and Legislative
2 A Gently Slopped Leadership: Parliamentary Support
for Presidents in France 31
Damien Lecomte and Olivier Rozenberg
3 Power Scope and Party Disunity
of Semi-Presidentialism in Taiwan: The Perspective
of Political Participation of Elites and the Masses 67
Yu-Chung Shen and Jung-Hsinag Tsai
4 President and Congress in the Period of Uniﬁed
Government in America 91
5 Political Institutions, Democratization, and Incumbent
Party Cohesion Under Uniﬁed and Partial Uniﬁed
Governments in Mexico 115
Yen-Pin Su and Fabricio A. Fonseca
6 Consensual Decision-Making and No Rebels:
Presidentialism in Indonesia 145
7 Presidents, Uniﬁed Government, and Legislative
Control: What Have We Learned? 163
Consensual Decision-Making and No Rebels:
Presidentialism in Indonesia
Only two political systems in Southeast Asia can be characterized
as presidential systems: Indonesia and the Philippines. Both of these
systems are not embedded in full-ﬂedged democratic systems, but rather
in political orders that can be characterized as defective democracies. In
the most recent Democracy Index of Freedom House (Freedom House
2019) both countries are rather as partly free. Nevertheless, Indonesia is
together with the Philippines still the most democratic country among
the ten ASEAN member states.
In this article, I will analyze various features of presidentialism in
Indonesia. Within the framework of this volume the focus lies more
speciﬁcally on executive-legislative relations, i.e., the relations of the
elected Indonesian president with the national parliament, the Dewan
P. Ziegenhain (B)
Department of International Relations, President University,
© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature
Switzerland AG 2021
J.-H. Tsai (ed.), Presidents, Uniﬁed Government and Legislative
Control, Palgrave Studies in Presidential Politics,
146 P. ZIEGENHAIN
Perwakilan Rakyat (DPR, literally the People’s Representative Council).
All authors in this volume were requested to delineate causal factors that
are crucial for support for presidential bills among members of the presi-
dent’s party in the legislature. This is not an easy task, however, since (as
will be explained later in greater detail) the speciﬁc Indonesian form of
presidentialism and the de facto practice of executive-legislative relations
make it impossible to single out the voting behavior of the president’s
party members. In addition, it is more useful to distinguish between
parties that support the president (the so-called government coalition)
and those parties that prefer to not support the president and stay in
It is indispensable to start this chapter with a thorough analysis of
the Indonesia’s current institutional environment and the major aspects
of executive-legislative relations, both not only from a legal and consti-
tutional perspective but also based on experiences of the daily practice
in the last 20 years. This leads to an examination of coalition-building
of all Indonesian presidents after the begin of the democratization
process in 1999: First, the short-lived presidency of Abdurrahman Wahid
(October 1999–May 2001), his successor Megawati Sukarnoputri (June
2001–September 2004), then the two terms of the directly elected
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (ﬁrst term: October 2004–September 2009,
second term: October 2009–September 2014) and ﬁnally current Presi-
dent Joko Widodo, who is often nicknamed Jokowi (ﬁrst term October
2014–September 2019, second term October 2019–now).
In the following paragraphs I will describe and analyze basic pattern of
support for the president from members of the president’s party or more
general from the president’s coalition. I will hereby discuss the reasons
and consequences for the forming of oversized coalitions. Then, I will
explain why there are so few “legislative rebels” among the members of
the president’s party/coalition and how the dynamics within the political
parties are managed in Indonesia. In a ﬁnal step, I will then focus on the
question if the following four factors shape the level of support within the
president’s party/coalition: conﬁdence vote, electoral system, candidate
nomination, and decree-making powers of the president.
There is a sufﬁcient amount of recent academic literature on presiden-
tialism in Indonesia. One direction in the publications was the results of
the constitutional amendment process and its consequences for executive-
legislative relations (Horowitz 2013; Ziegenhain 2008). Others focused
on the powers and competencies of the Indonesian presidents in general
6 CONSENSUAL DECISION-MAKING AND NO REBELS … 147
(Kawamura 2010,2013a,b; Yudhini 2009) or about executive-legislative
relations (Sherlock 2015; Hanan 2013; Kawamura 2011;Manan2017).
A large number of publications discussed the negative effects of multiparty
coalitions and large coalition-building (Asrinaldi 2013;Efriza2018;Chen
2014; Hamudy and Rifki 2019; Hanan 2016; Mietzner 2016)orpower-
sharing arrangements and the alleged lack of opposition/accountability
in Indonesia (Slater 2018). Several researchers analyzed the coalition-
building practices of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (Aspinall et al. 2015;
Sulistiyanto 2004) and Jokowi (Mietzner 2015). Additionally, other
research concentrated on the impact of the party systems on presiden-
tialism (Kawamura 2013a,b; Fionna and Tomsa 2017; Gyene 2019;
Slater 2004;Ufen2017). There are also some relevant academic publi-
cations which draw comparative conclusions forms of different forms of
presidentialism in Southeast Asia (Case 2011; Ziegenhain 2015; Bünte
and Thompson 2018).
In terms of methodology, this chapter is mainly based on a system-
atic review of academic literature in English and Indonesian language. In
addition, the author relied on a series of interviews with Indonesian legis-
lators, members of the government, journalists, civil society activists, and
local/international scholars. Quantitative data, for example, about voting
decisions of parties or politicians in the DPR, cannot be used since voting
processes are not systematically recorded.
and Executive-Legislative Relations
Indonesia has a quite unique political system. This refers to many
elements such as the widely decentralized government in a formally
unitary system or the second chamber DPD (Dewan Perwakilan Daerah,
House of Regional Representatives), in which all 33 provinces are repre-
sented with 4 elected persons, who are mostly party representatives but
during the election shall have no party afﬁliation. But also the form of
government is very special.
Most observers and nearly all Indonesian academics/politicians think
that the country has a presidential system since 1957, when then-
President Sukarno re-reinforced the 1945 Constitution. However, under
the original Indonesian constitution, the president was not elected directly
by the people, but by the MPR (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat,
People’s Consultative Assembly), which was composed mostly by the
148 P. ZIEGENHAIN
members of the national parliament DPR plus some hundred represen-
tatives of the regions and the social groups. After taking over power
in 1965/66 authoritarian President Suharto used this regulation to
consolidate its power, by carefully selecting these representatives and by
manipulating the parliamentary elections. Seven times in a row he was
“chosen” by the MPR as the sole candidate for the presidency and then
“elected” as president by acclamation in 1971, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992,
1997, and in March 1999. With the begin of the Era Reformasi (reform
era) after the resignation of Suharto in May 1998 a feature of the 1945
Constitution, which was for a long time a pure formality was discovered:
the accountability report of the President toward the MPR. During the
Suharto regime the subordinate MPR did not make use of this instru-
ment, but in the reform era the now democratically elected and critical
MPR did make use of that in late 1999 when it refused to accept the
accountability report of Suharto’s successor BJ Habibie. The latter was
forced to resign and the MPR elected in an open and democratic vote
Abdurrahman Wahid as his successor.
By analyzing the constitutional regulations and the practice, the
features of the Indonesian political system until the 2000 are clearly parlia-
mentarian: the head of government (named president in Indonesia) was
not elected by the people directly, but by an elected parliament (called
MPR in Indonesia) and was responsible to that parliament. If the head of
government loses the trust of the parliamentary majority, he/she can be
forced to resign by a vote of no conﬁdence (as happened to Abdurrahman
Wahid in 2001). All these features are clearly elements of a parliamentary
form of government.
Numerous Indonesian scholars voiced their concerns (e.g., Isra 2002;
Indrayana 2002) over an alleged superiority of parliament. As a conse-
quence, in the ongoing constitutional reform process at that time, the
constitution was amended in order to change it to a presidential system.
A direct election of the president was introduced (and the ﬁrst time imple-
mented in the year 2004), the presidential accountability report toward
MPR was abolished and the only way to remove an acting president was
only possible by an impeachment for criminal reasons. At the same time,
several provisions were introduced to democratize the Indonesian political
system. This also refers to the president and the legislature. After decades
of authoritarian rule by a president who was not effectively held in check
by other state agencies, the constitutional amendments between 1999 and
2002 counter-actively placed much emphasis on horizontal accountability.
6 CONSENSUAL DECISION-MAKING AND NO REBELS … 149
In the course of these institutional reforms, the “balance of power among
the executive, legislative, and judicial branches was carefully designed and
implemented so as to prevent the re-establishment of an authoritarian
regime” (Kawamura 2010:1).
Many observers rate the effective powers of the Indonesian pres-
ident after the constitutional reform process as rather small (Al-Arif
2015: 253). Compared to the classical example of a presidential system,
that of the United States of America, the Indonesian president has no
direct veto power over legislation. Article 20, section 2 of the revised
Indonesian constitution determines that every bill must be discussed
collectively by the national parliament and the president in order to reach
joint approval (persetujuan bersama). Therefore, and this stands again in
contrast to many other presidential democracies, the Indonesian presi-
dent and cabinet ministers actively participate in deliberations on bills
with the national parliament. In place of veto power, the Indonesian
president may intervene directly in the deliberation process by denying
a bill before it is brought to parliament. If there is no joint approval,
then the legislation process is stuck. On the other hand, when a bill is
passed by parliament, it is clear that it had the prior president’s approval.
Consequently, the Indonesian president does not have a direct veto on
parliamentary legislation, but rather an indirect one during the delibera-
tions (Ziegenhain 2015: 191). While this practice enables the president
to prevent the parliament from passing an unwanted law, the time for
consideration, deliberation and negotiation of a draft bill can be quite
long and time-consuming (Kawamura 2010:38).Inmanycases,abill
“disappeared” silently and without much notice from the general public
because parliament and government could not agree on some provisions
in their closed-door meetings.
Basic Patterns of Support for the President
from Members of the President’s Party/Coalition
All Indonesian presidents in the reform era since 1999 did not have
a majority of their own party in the parliament. Not least due to the
proportional election system, the speciﬁc party system and the voting
preferences of the Indonesian electorate, all Indonesian presidents did
not have a majority of members of their own party within the DPR.
The following table shows the seats and the percentage of seats of the
respective presidents’ parties.
150 P. ZIEGENHAIN
Tabl e 6.1 The seats and the percentage of seats of the respective presidents’
President Party Seats of the president’s
party in DPR/total
seats of DPR
Percentage of seats
of the president’s
party in DPR (%)
PDI-P 153/462 33.12
2004–2009 Susilo Bambang
PD 55/550 10.00
2009–2014 Susilo Bambang
PD 148/560 26.43
2014–2019 Joko Widodo PDI-P 109/560 19.46
2019– Joko Widodo PDI-P 128/575 22.26
aIn the 1999 parliamentary elections only 462 seats were contested by political parties, whereas
another 38 seats were reserved (as a temporar y compromise regulation in the democratization
process) for unelected representatives of the Armed Forces and the National Police
Table 6.1 shows that the presidents’ party controlled between 10 and
33.1% of the parliamentary seats. The so-far highest support of their own
party enjoyed Megawati Sukarnoputri (2001–2004) and Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono in his second term (2009–2014), whereas the same president
enjoyed the weakest support in his ﬁrst term (2004–2009) followed by
Abdurrahman Wahid (1999–2001).
A president without a majority in parliament is according to scholarly
literature on comparative politics and “conventional wisdom based on the
experience of other legislatures internationally … a formula for legislative
deadlock and possible political instability” (Sherlock 2007: 16). Every
president in democratic Indonesia was thus forced to build a coalition
of many parties to have a majority in the parliament and to avoid gridlock
situations between the executive and legislative branches that are so char-
acteristic of presidential systems in other countries. The coalitions that
are formed in Indonesia’s democracy are, however, not loose agreements
among party leaders, but resemble more the rather strict government-
supporting coalitions in parliamentary systems of government (Asrinaldi
In 1999, Indonesia’s ﬁrst democratically elected president, Abdur-
rahman Wahid whose own party only controlled about 11% of the
6 CONSENSUAL DECISION-MAKING AND NO REBELS … 151
parliament’s seats was able to build a broad coalition of supporting
parties. However, he soon got into conﬂict with several of these polit-
ical parties after dismissing their leading politicians as ministers, by not
involving them into political decision-making and by “practising a highly
erratic and self-centered decision-making process” (Mietzner 2016: 212).
That was no problem in the authoritarian regime of President Suharto,
but became a major issue during Indonesia’s democratization process.
Wahid’s coalition broke apart and an impeachment for alleged corrup-
tion practically turned into a vote of no conﬁdence (Ziegenhain 2008:
145). All political parties including the military/police faction but except
for Wahid’s own party supported the removal of the president and the
installation of his Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri as new president.
The latter ran a broad coalitional cabinet that included nearly all political
parties without much conﬂict, thereby delivering political stability during
her term until 2004.
The winner of the 2004 elections, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY)
followed the example of his two predecessors and formed a multiparty
coalition government, a so-called “rainbow coalition” (Diamond 2009).
As a lesson learned from the fall of Abdurrahman Wahid, SBY draw
the conclusion that any Indonesian president needed to sustain a large
multiparty coalition in parliament in order to stay in power and to
protect himself from oppositional attempts at his removal. His ﬁrst cabinet
(2004–2009) included members of seven parties holding 402 (73%) of
the 550 seats in the DPR, while the second (2009–2014) contained
members of six parties representing 421 (75%) of the 560 seats.
SBY used the usual instruments of coalitional presidentialism in order
to build and sustain his coalition. Most importantly, he offered ministries
and positions as head of government agencies to leading politicians of all
major political parties represented in DPR. These parties, received “access
not only to the levers of policymaking but also to the state resources
and patronage that come with government ofﬁce” (Sukma 2010: 67).
Similarly, SBY made use of this presidential prerogatives on the budget
and the legislation process to keep his allies parties in check and at the
same time to tie them to his government.
The sheer amount of political parties represented in SBY’s cabinet
meant that Yudhoyono did not face any serious threats throughout his
decade in power (Mietzner 2016: 214) but also led to a lack of policy
direction and decisiveness. For the sake of including parties in his coali-
tion, SBY sometimes had to appoint ministers who adopted stances that
152 P. ZIEGENHAIN
contravened the president’s own policy preferences. A case in point was
his minister of religion, Suryadharma Ali, whose intolerant views toward
religious minorities did not mirror the viewpoint of SBY (Aspinall et al.
The fact that SBY preferred inclusion over confrontation corresponded
to his personal and political character. In contrast to other presidents
in presidential systems such as the Philippines or South Korea who
attempted to implement their agendas but then got frustrated by the
powers of their respective legislatures, SBY embraced his reduction to a
moderating role very early on in his presidency (Aspinall et al. 2015: 14)
and continued to rely on the traditional means of coalitional presiden-
tialism rather than on coercion or the aggressive use of other presidential
powers to enforce compliance among his coalition partners (Mietzner
Current President Joko Widodo applied a different approach when
he faced after his victory in the presidential elections of 2014 a hostile
majority in the legislature. After a highly polarized election campaign Joko
Widodo’s Indonesia Hebat Coalition (Koalisi Indonesia Hebat,which
consisted of his own party PDI-P, plus PKB, Nasdem, and Hanura) had
no majority within the DPR. What made matters worse for the president
was that the opposition parties also formed a coalition in the DPR, the
so-called Red-and-White Coalition (Koalisi Merah Putih) and threatened
to obstruct all policies of the newly elected president.
In this situation, Joko Widodo applied a trick from the authoritarian
times of former President Suharto. According to Indonesian law the
Minister of Justice and Human Rights (who is appointed by the pres-
ident) can decide which speciﬁc faction is the legal representative of a
political party. Within the Indonesian political parties factions are usually
not based around ideological differences, but these factions are, “by and
large, clientelistic alliances that are only kept together by a common desire
to improve their access to patronage resources” (Fionna and Tomsa 2017:
21f.). Within one and a half years, Joko Widodo was able to support pro-
Jokowi forces (factions) within three opposition parties (PPP, PAN, and
Golkar) to claim the party leadership.
In September 2014, the pro-Jokowi faction around Romahurmuziy
in PPP sacked Suryadharma (who wanted the party to remain in oppo-
sition) and Jokowi’s Minister of Justice, Yasonna Laoly, immediately
recognized Romahurmuziy’s camp as the lawful representative of PPP
(Mietzner 2016: 221). Another party switched sides in late 2015 when
6 CONSENSUAL DECISION-MAKING AND NO REBELS … 153
within PAN Zulkiﬂi Hasan (pro-Jokowi) was able to outmaneuver Hatta
Radjasa who wanted to stay in opposition. Similarly, Jokowi was able to
install his follower Setya Novanto as new Golkar chairman by removing
Aburizal Bakrie. With the government-inﬂuenced switching of these three
parties, Joko Widodo was able to increase his government coalition from
37% at the beginning of his presidency in October 2014 into a 69%
majority by early 2016. Only by creating this supporting coalition in
parliament, Jokowi was able to ﬁrmly establish its power and to stabilize
his government. In essence, Jokowi had coerced three opposition party
into supporting his government by methods which are not the traditional
instruments of coalitional presidentialism (positions, rewards, patronage)
but rather by coercive measures such as the crudest tool of government
inﬂuence on parties namely that of withholding legal recognition for
unwanted party leaders and installing his own loyalists (Mietzner 2016:
The coalition-building after the 2019 reelection of President Joko
Widodo went signiﬁcantly different. In the time after the election in
April 2019 but before the ofﬁcial inauguration ceremony in October
2019, Joko Widodo was able to lure most political parties, which did not
support him in the presidential campaign, into his camp with the tradi-
tional means of offering positions and access to power. The biggest coup
was the inclusion of Gerindra, the party of his direct opponent in the
presidential race, Prabowo Subianto. Altogether, President Joko Widodo
was able to include 8 out of 9 parties represented in the national parlia-
ment in his government coalition. Only the Islamic PKS (Partai Keadilan
Sejahtera, Prosperous Justice Party) with 50 out of 575 seats remained in
the opposition, meaning that the presidential coalition currently consists
of 91.3% of the legislators.
Such oversized coalitions are a typical feature of Indonesian democracy
since 1999. A lot of academic research has been undertaken to analyze the
reasons behind them. Most authors agree that the political parties form a
sort of cartel (Slater 2004), in which they share access to state powers and
resources. In addition, oversized coalition also refer to the centrality of
patronage in Indonesian politics, with parties eager to participate in pres-
idential cabinets primarily to gain access to funds that ministries provide,
rather than to seek for opportunities to draft or implement public policies
(Aspinall et al. 2015: 7). The leadership style of all Indonesian presidents
since 2001 can thus be described as “accommodative with transactional
tendencies” (Efriza 2018:2).
154 P. ZIEGENHAIN
Legislative Rebels of Members of the President’s
Party/Coalition Over Presidential Supporting
Bills or Government-Initiated Bills
It is impossible to identify rebels among the president’s party or coalition
due to speciﬁc features of Indonesian executive-legislative relations. One
central reason is that, as already explained before, the legislation process
between the Indonesian executive and legislative is consensus-oriented. It
avoids a direct and public confrontation between government and parlia-
ment. Instead, an intensive search for compromises takes place behind
closed doors in the negotiations between the two branches of govern-
ment. Both sides can prevent legislation that they do not prefer, so that
neither branch dominates the legislative process. Consequently, legislation
(and also the national budget) is not a clear parliamentary prerogative
since legislative outcomes have to be negotiated with government repre-
sentatives. The government can thereby delay or even stall legislation
that a parliamentary majority supports (Ziegenhain 2015: 191). On one
hand, the parliament members can effectively obstruct any presidential
legal initiative by not agreeing to a compromise and keep on discussing
until the end of the legislative term. The rule of consensus decision-
making in a fragmented multiparty system results in long deliberations
and manifold possibilities to amend or to delay bills. In practice, the pres-
ident or his ministers approach the party and faction leaders and lobby for
their proposals. If they can agree on a deal, the rank-and-ﬁle members of
the parliamentary factions will follow the decisions of the party/faction
The other reason why it is impossible to identify rebels among the pres-
ident’s party or coalition is that political decision-making in Indonesia
is not based on voting of individual legislators, but generally based
on musyawarah (deliberation) and mufakat (compromise), which are
prescribed, for instance, in the DPR’s Standing Orders. Debating until
a compromise is reached that everybody can accept characterizes the
Indonesian way of making decisions in parliament. In accordance with
this third principle of Indonesia’s state philosophy, Pancasila, majority
votes are practically never held in the parliament’s committees. If certain
political parties from the opposition do not support an agreed proposal,
they will walk out and not take part in the decision-making process. This
procedure, however, occurred very rarely in Indonesian democracy. It
happened, for example, on 12 February 2018 when two factions (Nasdem
6 CONSENSUAL DECISION-MAKING AND NO REBELS … 155
and PPP) left the DPR’s plenary session during the ﬁnal approval of
the revision of the law on the status of the legislatures (Putri 2018).
Previously, on 21 July 2017, four factions (PKS Gerindra, Demokrat dan
PAN) left the decision-making in the plenary session on the reform of the
election law (Antara 2017).
The speciﬁc Indonesian manner of decision-making is contrary to
democratic accountability of individual legislators. It makes it very difﬁ-
cult for the general public to identify and discern the political attitude
of single legislators or factions. Reaching a consensus can often involve
dubious backroom dealings, horse-trading, and other non-transparent
ways of decision-making prone to corruption. As Bill Case noted,
committee chairmen and key committee members often use informal
politics to exert inﬂuence. For example, they conduct frequently closed
lobbying sessions and private meetings in the salons of Jakarta hotels
(Case 2011: 26). As no minutes of committee sessions are published,
Stephen Sherlock (2007: 16) observed that the initial views of members
can seldom be determined, nor can the methods by which dissenters
are “persuaded” in these meetings to join in consensus (Case 2011:
26). While it is also quite normal in other established democracies that
crucial parliamentary decisions and compromises are made behind back
doors and not in the plenary sessions, the procedural opaqueness of
decision-making in the parliamentary committees in Indonesia stands out.
Discussion of the Effects of the Four Explanatory
Variables on Legislative Support or Defection
One of the major hypotheses of this edited volume is that there are varia-
tions in support for presidential bills among members of the presidential
party/coalition for the following four reasons:
1. Conﬁdence vote—in countries with a conﬁdence vote, legislators are
more likely to toe the party line than they are in countries with no
2. Electoral system—the more the electoral system allows for a personal
vote, the less likely it is that members of the president’s party will
support the president’s bills.
156 P. ZIEGENHAIN
3. Candidate nomination—the more centralized the candidate selec-
tion process, the more likely it is that members of the president’s
party will support the president’s bills.
4. Unilateral power—if the president has decree power, members of
the president’s party are more likely to support the president’s bills.
This is because the president can use that power to deliver goods to
members of his/her party to encourage their support.
Concerning reason 1, it has to be stated that the Indonesian political
system does not have a conﬁdence vote. The president is elected for a ﬁve
years term and the only possibility for the parliament to stop a president
from fulﬁlling these ﬁve years is to initiate an impeachment in accordance
with Article 7A of the Indonesian constitution. Such an impeachment,
however, cannot be started for political but only for criminal reasons.
The president should not be removed from ofﬁce unless proven by the
Constitutional Court to have breached the law through either treason,
bribery, corruption, other grave criminal offence, or moral turpitude
(Yudhini 2009: 280). So far, since the amended constitution has been
passed in 2002, no impeachment process has been seriously discussed or
even started. The aforementioned case of President Abdurrahman Wahid
in 2001 can be rated as a vote of no conﬁdence or a politically motivated
impeachment, but the circumstances were quite different in 2001 as they
are now nearly 20 years later.
Reason 2, the electoral system refers to the alleged greater autonomy
of legislators if they are elected in a direct vote on their constituencies and
not on a party list. The Indonesian electoral system is not a majority (or
ﬁrst-past-the-post) one based on one-member districts but a proportional
multi-member district election system. Accordingly, every constituency
votes several members for parliament on the basis of party-lists.
The proportional election system was changed in 2003 from a closed-
party list to an open-party list. The reason for this was that the closed-list
system was often criticized as it placed a great deal of power in the hands
of the party leadership, who determine the rankings on the lists, particu-
larly since “it makes MPs answerable to the party but not to the electors”
(Sherlock 2009: 4). Therefore, the idea behind the introduction of the
open-list system (as demanded by civil society actors) was to give voters
the opportunity to choose a certain candidate from the party list and
thus the chance to change the order of the party list, which was deter-
mined by the political party. The motivation for this “reform—common
6 CONSENSUAL DECISION-MAKING AND NO REBELS … 157
in Europe, but unique in the Asia-Paciﬁc—was to give voters more inﬂu-
ence over which candidates from a given party list would be elected, thus
in theory strengthening the link between voters and politicians” (Reilly
2006: 106). However, there were some noticeable side effects of the
open-party list regulation. Candidates were now in competition not only
with those from rival parties, but at least in the same intensity also with
candidates from their own ranks. Due to the proportional election system,
it is often quite clear that one of the bigger parties will get one or two
seats in a multi-member constituency. The crucial question is therefore
often not which parties get seats but what party candidates will get the
most votes in order to secure one or two seats. Thus, the main negative
effects of the open-party list system were the reduction of party cohesion
due to heightened intraparty competition and the increased election costs
In practice, the Indonesian electoral system is not a decisive variable
to determine the autonomy of the legislators vis-à-vis the president. The
only way to enter parliament is via the political parties, since independent
candidates are not allowed to run in national legislative elections. In so
far, the dependency of individual legislators toward their respective parties
is relatively high with a party-based proportional election system being in
Criteria 3 refers to the candidate nomination process and how big is the
inﬂuence of the national level on the local party chapters. In Indonesia,
the DPR candidates are ofﬁcially nominated by a local party council, but
de facto is it an open secret that the party leadership regularly interferes
in nomination processes in order to prevent unfavorable candidates or
to promote certain other candidates. The nomination process must be
seen as part of the patronage policies which play a very important role in
The inﬂuence of the national party leadership on the candidate nomi-
nation process makes it more probable that the members of the presi-
dent’s party will be rather following the party line than more indepen-
dent candidate. However, the above-mentioned open-party list element
weakens the inﬂuence of the national party leadership on individual
The last criteria are the decree-making powers of the Indonesian
president. Compared to other presidential systems of government such
constitutional powers are very limited in Indonesia. During the consti-
tutional amendment process of the original 1945 Constitution the
158 P. ZIEGENHAIN
previously sweeping decree-making powers of the Indonesian presidential
were trimmed down signiﬁcantly or abolished completely as part of the
democratization process. In the case of a “compelling emergency,” the
president has according to Article 22 (1) the constitutional right to issue
a government regulation in lieu of a law (Peraturan Pemerintah Peng-
ganti Undang-Undang, abbreviated as Perpu). Such a regulation must,
however, receive the ex-post consent of the DPR. A practical example was
President Joko Widodo’s decision to issue a Perpu of parliament (at that
time ruled by an opposition majority) to abolish local direct elections in
August 2015. In September 2019 many civil society ﬁgures demanded
from Jokowi to also issue a Perpu to stop the parliament decision to
reduce the powers of the Anti-Corruption Commission KPK (Komisi
Pemberantasan Korupsi), but at that time the president refused to do
so. As shown above, the decree-making power of Indonesian presidents
are very limited. Therefore, the Indonesian case cannot support the thesis
that the members of the president’s party are more likely to support the
president’s bills when there are presidential decree-making powers.
Indonesia’s form of presidentialism is unique. It is the result of a combi-
nation of path dependency, historical and cultural conditions, but also of
compromises between the political parties during the amendment process
of the Constitution between 1999 and 2002. The country combines
presidentialism with multi-partyism caused by a proportional election
system, which aims to guarantee broad representation in a multi-ethnic
and multi-religious state.
Since 2002 all Indonesian presidents attempted to stabilize their rule
and to implement their policies by attempting to form coalitions within
the DPR, since none of the presidents had a majority of the seats with
his/her own party alone. This coalition-making was usually done by the
classical instruments such as patronage or access to power, which nearly
all Indonesian parties were soon willing to accept. After 2001 a clear-
cut opposition has largely failed to emerge among the parties represented
in parliament (Slater 2018: 42). The only exception happened after the
2014 elections when President Jokowi interfered into the affairs of oppo-
sition parties and made them switch into his government coalition. As a
result, the presidential coalitions were always oversized, what led to polit-
ical stability. Indonesia is regarded as the sturdiest democracy in Southeast
6 CONSENSUAL DECISION-MAKING AND NO REBELS … 159
Asia (Bünte and Thompson 2018: 252), but democratic quality is rather
stagnating or even declining. The political system run by grand coalitions
is not useful for innovation and political reforms, since decisions are often
on the basis of the smallest common denominator. The grand coalitions
also prevent accountability since it is not clearly recognizable which actor
is responsible for certain policies.
The whole Indonesian system of government, but particularly the legis-
lation process is based on consensus, not only between the executive and
the legislative branches, but also between the party factions in parlia-
ment. Consensus mechanisms such as the abstinence of open voting but
also the above-mentioned oversized presidential coalitions leave not much
space for individual actions of legislators. In so far, it is nearly impos-
sible to delineate causal factors that are crucial for support for presidential
bills among members of the president’s party in the legislature. Due to
the described speciﬁc Indonesian form of presidentialism, there are no
“legislative rebels” and the proposed four variables do have little signiﬁ-
cance to the legislative support or defection of members of the president’s
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