Tuesday, August 02, 2016

The Mixed Signals in #Jokowi's Second Cabinet Flip

While the chief objective of the latest Cabinet shake-up was to accommodate the demands of political parties in his ruling coalition, especially the Golkar and National Mandate (PAN) parties, which only recently joined his government, many view the reshuffle as an effort by Jokowi to bring order to his Cabinet. 
The dismissals of outgoing coordinating maritime affairs minister Rizal Ramli, energy and mineral resources minister Sudirman Said and transportation minister Ignasius Jonan have been seen as punishment for their penchant for publicly airing their policy disagreements and making controversial statements.

... professional technocratic ministers with no allegiances to any political parties were the big losers in this reshuffle. The removal of Ignatius Jonan and Anies Baswedan from the cabinet and the demotion of Bambang Brodjonegoro and Thomas Lembong signalled that short-term political considerations mattered more in policymaking than policy reforms.
Ministers who tried to push for serious reforms within their ministries and unshackle them from the influence of vested economic interests were seen as ‘trouble-makers’ to be targeted for reshuffle. While some of them were replaced by other professionals with impeccable records, such as Sri Mulyani, the replacement of the technocrats could be read negatively by investors and affect Indonesia’s economic growth and investment outlook.

Some observers said Mr Wiranto's appointment may be President Joko Widodo sending a message to domestic militants that he will get tough on extremism. Others say the post was a reward for Hanura's support during his presidential campaign, ..."Either way, Wiranto will have to show that he has what it takes to be what is regarded as the most powerful ministerial position in Cabinet, and it will not be easy when he has to fend off detractors going after his human rights record..." 
"I know that the President's highest priority is the ongoing reform programmes, and Sri Mulyani's return will increase confidence in Indonesia's performance and will be highly important for promoting transparency," said Mr Kim. A priority for her would be to ensure Mr Joko's tax amnesty programme delivers the billions in revenue he had promised... Experts such as Centre for Strategic and International Studies economist Yose Rizal Damuri are optimistic that she can make the amnesty work, having successfully led a similar tax plan from 2008 to 2009...

The market responded positively to Mulyani’s appointment. Nevertheless, the great expectations of Mulyani have distorted the issue of the political horse-trading that shaped the new cabinet. To make way for Golkar and PAN in the cabinet, Jokowi sacked two Hanura ministers. To compensate for this, Jokowi gave Wiranto a seat in the cabinet, despite protestations from human rights groups. 
Jokowi left untouched cabinet posts held by representatives of the Indonesia Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) regardless of their performance. 
By granting ministerial positions to party representatives, Jokowi gives these parties political incentives to continue supporting his administration in the parliament. 
With the addition of Golkar and PAN, Jokowi now has support from 69% of the members of parliament. Before the two parties aligned themselves with Jokowi’s coalition, he had only 46.5% support from the parliament. 
This shows that in Indonesian politics being part of the opposition is merely a strategy of political elites to increase their bargaining power.

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