December 27, 2022
JAKARTA – President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has left the door open for a Cabinet reshuffle, fueling rumors that ministers from the pro-government NasDem Party – which has thrown its weight behind opposition figurehead Anies Baswedan – will be on the chopping block, an idea that the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) has supported.
“[A reshuffle] is possible. We’ll see,” Jokowi said in Bogor, West Java, on Friday in response to questions from the press about whether he would shake up his Cabinet following a recent public opinion poll.
The poll in question was published on Friday by Charta Politika and found that while 60.5 percent of respondents approved of the current Cabinet’s performance, 61.8 percent agreed with the idea of a reshuffle.
PDI-P central executive board member Djarot Saiful Hidayat has also expressed his support for such a move, specifically blaming Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo and Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar for failing to maintain Indonesia’s self-sufficiency in rice.
“It turns out we had to import rice as soon as the price started to rise. […] Jokowi has to evaluate the ministers’ performance and see if they’re capable of achieving his programs as Jokowi approaches the end of his term,” Djarot said, as quoted by Kompas.
But political analyst Bawono Kumoro of Indikator Politik suggested that political motives, rather than performance concerns, were behind Djarot’s comments.
“If we look at the statements from within the government coalition, especially from the PDI-P, there’s been pressure directed at NasDem. […] Now that Jokowi has hinted at the idea of a reshuffle, the PDI-P is again fueling the fire by naming the two ministers that happen to be from NasDem,” Bawono said.
Both Syahrul and Siti, together with Communications and Information Minister Johnny G. Plate, are NasDem cadres. While NasDem is part of the pro-government coalition led by the PDI-P, of which Jokowi is a member, tensions between the two parties have risen since NasDem declared its support for former Jakarta governor Anies for the 2024 presidential election.
While NasDem still maintains that it has a close relationship with Jokowi, with party chairman Surya Paloh saying the party remained “a true friend to Jokowi in all of his ups and downs” at NasDem’s anniversary event in November, Jokowi has made some remarks that analysts have taken as criticism of NasDem.
During the Golkar Party’s anniversary event in October, Jokowi advised the party against being “reckless” in its choice of candidate, three weeks after NasDem’s declaration of support for Anies and in front of Surya, who was also in attendance.
Likewise, the PDI-P was vocal in its criticism of NasDem at the time.
“Imagine, when the President is concentrating on preparing for the G20 and solving the country’s economic problems, a member of the government coalition has instead chosen to support someone who, so far, has opposed the government,” PDI-P secretary-general Hasto Kristiyanto said in October, as quoted by Tempo.
But political analyst Adi Prayitno of State Islamic University (UIN) Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta believed a politically motivated reshuffle could be a strategic blunder for Jokowi, as the public might sympathize with NasDem instead.
“NasDem would look as if they had been wronged by Jokowi despite remaining loyal to him,” Adi said.
As he approaches the end of his second term, the President has been accused of seeking to influence the race to succeed him, which he expressly denied during a speech at the Hanura Party’s anniversary celebration last week.
“They might later blame unsuccessful coalition [building for the 2024 election] on the Palace, even though it is [actually] between party chairs. […] There could also be candidates who fail to be nominated and then they blame it on the Palace. What’s that got to do with me?” Jokowi said on Wednesday.
At the same event, Hanura chairman Oesman Sapta Odang refuted rumors that he supported Anies for 2024.
“I’ve never declared support for anyone, nor for Anies in particular,” Oesman said.
While NasDem has formally declared its support for Anies, the party still has to form a coalition with other parties to meet the so-called presidential threshold, which requires a nominating coalition to hold at least 20 percent of the seats in the House of Representatives to be eligible to field a candidate. Currently, NasDem is in talks with the Democratic Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the two remaining opposition parties in the House, to form such a coalition.