In recent years, a new school of thought has challenged the conventional notion that presidential systems in multi-party regimes face instability and ineffectiveness. This concept, known as "coalitional presidentialism," argues that presidents can achieve stability by forming post-electoral coalitions with legislative parties. In the case of Indonesia, Marcus Mietzner argues in his presentation that the country's post-2004 system goes beyond the boundaries of traditional coalitional presidentialism.

Unlike the exclusive focus of coalitional presidentialism scholars on alliances between presidents and legislative parties, Indonesian presidents, according to Mietzner's research, have treated non-party actors as equal coalition partners. These actors include representatives from the military, police, bureaucracy, local government, oligarchy, and Muslim organizations, all of whom are included in the cabinet. This inclusive approach aims to protect presidents not only from threats originating in the legislature but also from potential attacks by other veto powers.

Furthermore, Mietzner highlights that beyond cabinet representation, non-party actors are integrated into presidential administrations through continuous negotiation and recalibration. This process establishes clear boundaries for non-negotiable vested interests on both sides.

As a result, Indonesia's post-2004 presidentialism, as Mietzner argues, has achieved a remarkable level of stability when compared to international peers and the country's own transitional period between 1998 and 2004. However, this stability has come at a cost. Presidents have made significant concessions to their coalition partners, which has had detrimental effects on democratic quality. The regime that has emerged prioritizes stability for those who benefit from its existence while excluding those considered less important and unworthy of participation.

Marcus Mietzner is Associate Professor in the Department of Political and Social Change. His research interests include the political role of the military in Indonesia; Indonesian political parties, particularly campaign financing issues; elections in Indonesia; and comparative electoral politics in Southeast Asia.

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Tue, 26 Oct 2021, 12:30 - 2pm

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