Indonesia: NU demand for seats may create rift

  • Indonesia’s largest Islamic mass organization Nahdlatul Ulama’s (NU) request for ministerial positions in the President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Ma’ruf Amin administration may create divisions in the ruling coalition.
  • NU secretary-general Helmy Faishal Zaini said the organization had directly told Jokowi and Ma’ruf of its request for seats but had yet to receive a reply. “The green light is not on yet. It’s a yellow light for now,” he told The Jakarta Post on 3 Jul 19.
  • NU’s public backing of Jokowi and its placement of senior NU cleric Ma’ruf in the vice-presidential slot are widely considered to be key factors in Jokowi’s reelection, which was fueled largely by overwhelming wins in the NU strongholds of Central and East Java, which are NU strongholds.
  • However, some members of Jokowi’s coalition have opposed NU’s request for Cabinet positions. The NasDem Party, for example, has stated that Jokowi should not provide a special seat in the government for NU members who do not come from political parties, specifically with regard to the PKB, since both institutions have similar characteristics.
  • NasDem Party secretary-general Johnny G. Plate said he was also sure that the PKB did not want NU members outside the PKB to enter the Cabinet because it would affect the party’s own quota.
  • On the other hand, Achmad Baidowi, the secretary-general of the United Development Party (PPP), which also has a large NU backing, said that a separate quota for NU in the government was not a problem for the party.
  • However, both NasDem and the PPP said that the decision to accept NU figures into the Cabinet was Jokowi’s prerogative as president and that the supporting parties were ready to accept whatever his decision would be.
  • Jokowi has recently indicated that he might reduce the overall number of ministries, while also saying that he wanted 20- and 30-year olds in his Cabinet.

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