President Joko Widodo and his Cabinet members - Photo by President Office

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Indonesia’ President Joko Widodo ensures the upcoming cabinet will consist of 60 percent political party members and 40 percent professionals for his second term cabinet and would be announced soon.

The re-elected president did not question a number of supporting parties who had requested ministerial seats. Political parties that have been open convey their hopes of getting ministerial seats including Kebangkitan Bangsa Party (PKB), Nasional Demokrasi Party (Nasdem), and Persatuan Pembangunan Party (PPP).

“I do not question a number of parties requesting seats. Basically, the composition is 60 percent from the party and 40 percent from professionals,” he told the media in Jakarta on Friday (07/12) adding that he has pocketed the names and criteria for ministers.

Widodo has promised to reform the government so that his ambitious infrastructure and economic programs can be implemented promptly during his second term. But whether he will succeed in pushing through his preferred technocrats will also depend on his allies in government.

According to political expert Arya Fernandes, Widodo, in theory, free to pick the best person for the job because he is legally barred from seeking another term, so he does not have to worry about his re-election prospects. But Fernandes warned that the President’s decisions will still be subject to approval from the groups which backed his re-election, such as the Golkar Party and the PKB.

“Consequently, he will probably pick good professionals from political parties or those whom they can accept. But the president needs to review the involvement of coalition parties that have their respective interests,” said Fernandes, an observer of Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Widodo, who ran a furniture export business before entering politics 15 years ago, has said that those from political parties can also be professionals. This has led to questions about how far he will accommodate political interests in filling the ministerial seats.

Fernandes explained that the public would like Widodo must formulate a professional cabinet to facilitate new government programs in 2024. He added that it was not easy for the president to realize the Indonesian people need today.

The president has difficulty in compromising with supporting parties. Widodo will gain weight when there are opposition political parties that join. As is known, until now the Demokrat Party and Amanat Nasional Party (PAN) are often rumored to move to the government coalition.

Fernandes said that the challenges for Widodo also came from non-party groups. “For example, from Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), they were also moved through political lobbies to become part of the government,” he ended.

Another expert, Sebastian Salang from Forum Masyarakat Peduli Parlemen Indonesia (FORMAPPI) says Widodo actually does not need to add the composition of its coalition parties in parliament. The coalition parties support was enough to secure government policy for the next five years.

Salang stressed that the composition of strong opposition parties was also needed by democratic countries to ensure that critical voices were heard in the Palace.

The composition of his first-term Cabinet is telling, with only 14 political appointees among the 34 ministers. Representatives from Widodo’s Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan Party (PDI-P) have four posts, while Golkar and PKB take up three posts each.

The parties have already offered their own list of candidates for the new Cabinet, according to local media reports. Golkar has proposed five names, including its chairman Airlangga Hartarto, the current Industry Minister, and aeronautical engineer Ilham Habibie, the son of former president B J Habibie. PKB has submitted at least 10 names, among which are those with professional backgrounds.

Salang noted that the daunting challenge for the President is to manage risks stemming from his reliance on his influential political partners, as clearly shown in the April election when notable cleric Ma’ruf Amin was picked as his running mate.

By far, most local media report that President may keep around 10 members of his current Cabinet, and will likely leave economic affairs to the professionals.

Ministers who could be re-appointed include Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati and Public House and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono.

Indrawati, a former World Bank managing director, has kept Indonesia’s fiscal deficit in check and was instrumental in the country being rated investment grade by all top rating agencies for the first time in two decades.

The new faces include Erick Thohir, a media tycoon who led the Widodo’ campaign team. Also, a possibility is Professor Yusril Ihza Mahendra, who headed the Widodo’s legal team in fighting the suit brought by defeated presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and his running mate Sandiaga Uno at the Constitutional Court to overturn the election results.

Written by Willy Matrona, Email: theinsiderstories@gmail.com