TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – The internal conflict within the National Awakening Party (PKB) must be resolved democratically. There should be no government intervention.
The battle within the National Awakening Party (PKB) shows that political parties in Indonesia still suffer from a chronic illness: being ruined by internal strife and dependent on the government for their survival. A number of PKB politicians maneuvered to remove Muhaimin Iskandar from the party presidency. They accuse him of having arbitrarily dismissed regional party officials. They are also unhappy with Muhaimin’s habit of placing his relatives and relatives in party and government positions.
The problem became more complicated as both sides asked for government help. Muhaimin asked for the Palace’s support to help him retain his presidency, while his opponents met with a number of senior officials in Joko Widodo’s cabinet. Efforts by both sides to invite government intervention could endanger the future of the PKB.
Faced with the demarches of both camps, the government must refrain from intervening, while taking sole side. President Joko Widodo must not repeat the mistake he made in letting Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko lead the Democratic Party. Although he claimed to be acting in his personal capacity, Moeldoko cannot be separated from his position as a person close to the President.
The president should push the two parties to the PKB conflict to resolve their conflict democratically, using the mechanism provided for in the party’s statutes. Even if it is flawed, the party constitution represents a consensus that must be respected, including in order to find a civilized resolution to a conflict.
Whatever the excuse, government intervention will only weaken the party and make the winner dependent on the government. If it is about intentionally digging a hole to bury a political party, it is one of the main pillars of democracy.
Democracy needs strong political parties to bring together competing public interests and then channel them into the legislative process, and ideologies that are often at odds do not explode into open conflict that could be marked by violence.
However, history shows us that not all political parties make a positive contribution to our democracy. Only parties that lead democratically strengthen democracy. Democratic parties generally have transparent members and decision-making processes. Parties like this also require leaders who can accommodate and orchestrate the different interests of members. A healthy party is one that is not run like a private foundation or a family business, with a chef who decides everything.
In secret, a secret party with an authoritarian leader turns into a democratic parazite. These “parasitic” parties are generally only political vehicles for their leaders. Party officials approach voters during election campaigns, but once elections are over, those officials abandon their voters. They themselves are busy forming coalitions or cartels for their benefit.
The more parties that become parasitic, the greater the cynicism and lack of confidence people have in political parties. At this point, democracy is on the brink.
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