Blog Analysis Airlanggas Golkar chairmanship in jeopardy Luhut ready to overthrow

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Tenggara Strategics (The Jakarta Post)

Golkar senior politician Lawrence Siburian, who firstly floated the idea of removing Airlangga, argued that Airlangga focused much on his role as the coordinating economic minister rather than managing the party’s future trajectories, including determining the next presidential candidate endorsed by Golkar. This has put United Indonesia Coalition (KIB), which Golkar is part of, on fragile grounds — a situation that has incited political maneuvers internally to elect a leader who can determine the future of the party.

Such a push to have Luhut replace Airlangga is also due to Airlangga’s tacit support for Anies Baswedan, Jokowi’s political rival. He met Anies in a secret meeting, arranged by Golkar, to offer himself as Anies’ vice-presidential candidate. Anies is supported by the Coalition for Change, which Golkar is not part of, and thus Airlangga neglected his current coalition and the current administration. This has led to Jokowi putting Airlangga in a difficult posistion, such as having him questioned by the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) on the cooking oil scarcity case or even potentially removing Airlangga from his position as the Golkar chairman.

Luhut, currently serving as both Golkar’s advisory member and the coordinating maritime affairs and investment minister, is a man not without controversy. He has been named “the Minister of All” as he has managed more than 13 policy projects under Jokowi’s administration. He is also in a legal battle against human right activists Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti. His latest controversy is related to the fact that he mentioned sting operations by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) were not effective to curb corruption and deemed it as “primitive” method.

With these controversies, some quarters question if his leadership in Golkar could improve the party’s electability in the short term. However, Luhut is optimistic that when elected to become the party’s chairman, he could secure at least 85 seats in the House of Representatives in next year’s elections – the same number Golkar has now, making it the second largest party in the House.

Nevertheless, Luhut is not only the person endorsed and recommended to lead the Golkar. There are several names, such as People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) speaker Bambang Soesatyo, Investment Minister Bahlil Lahadalia, Industry Minister Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmista and Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy.

What’s more

Jokowi’s political relationship with Luhut has been strong, and Luhut is one of the strongest figures in Jokowi’s Cabinet. Apart from assigning Luhut as the coordinating minister, Jokowi has assigned him to at least 13 policy positions under his administration since 2014. The following are Luhut’s positions under Jokowi:6

  1. Chief of staff of the Presidential Office, starting Dec. 31, 2014
  2. Coordinating political, legal and security affairs minister, Aug. 13, 2015
  3. Coordinating maritime affairs minister, July 27, 2016
  4. Ad-interim energy and mineral resources minister, Aug. 15, 2016
  5. Chairman of the National Team for Increasing the Use of Domestic Products based on Presidential Decree (Kepres) No. 24/2018, September 2018
  6. Coordinating maritime affairs and investment minister in Jokowi’s second-term Cabinet, Oct. 23, 2019
  7. Deputy chairman of the Committee for COVID-19 Handling and National Economic Recovery, based on Presidential Regulation (Prespres) No. 82/2020, July 2020.
  8. Ad-interim maritime affairs and fisheries minister, Nov. 26, 2020.
  9. Coordinator of the Public Restriction Activity (PPKM) Implementation for Java and Bali, June 2021
  10. Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Rescue of 15 National Priority Lakes based on Perpres No. 60/2021, June 2021
  11. Chairman of the Proud of Indonesian-Made Products National Movement Team based on Perpres No. 15/2021, September 2021
  12. Chairman of the Jakarta-Bandung High Speed Train Committee based on Perpres No. 93/2021, October 2021
  13. Chairman of the National Water Resource Agency based on Perpres No. 52/2022, April 2022

What we’ve heard

A source said Airlangga was paying the price of his political maneuvers. One of the maneuvers was his meetings with the Coalition for Change’s presidential candidate Anies Baswedan. “The meetings were not reported to President Jokowi,” said the source who is close to Jokowi’s inner circle. Other sources said President Jokowi even ordered an investigation to verify if Airlangga really held talks with Anies. A source said Jokowi later on gained credible information that Airlangga actually met with Anies to discuss the upcoming 2024 presidential election.

Luhut is also said to mobilize support to take over the Golkar chief post from Airlangga. Leading the move are Luhut’s close confidants like former social affairs minister Idrus Marham and Investment Minister Bahlil Lahadalia. Bahlil himself has declared his readiness to lead Golkar, provided that his promotion follows the party mechanism.

Systematic efforts to unseat Airlangga also involve younger cadres of the party. A source said Sirajuddin Abdul Wahab, who chairs the Golkar Youth Movement (GMPG), is among the operators. Sirajuddin is also close to People’s Consultative Assembly speaker and senior Golkar politician Bambang Soesatyo. GMPG is campaigning for an extraordinary congress to oust Airlangga through public discussions and media events, the source said.

Several Golkar cadres have been offered strategic posts if Luhut secured the Golkar chief post. The posts include the executive chairman, treasurer, and deputy secretary-general. “The option is to name acting officials until the national congress in 2024,” said a senior Golkar politician.of last year.


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