There are many expressions of anxiety in Surya Paloh when conveying his views on the current political and democratic situation in Indonesia. In his inaugural address when he received an honorary doctorate in socio-politics at Brawijaya University, Malang, Surya Paloh suggested that although Indonesia has changed as a democratic country, the form of power still tends to be despotic; a condition in which power has a very strong grip on existing political institutions.
Surya Paloh’s anxiety is justified if we read Don Murray’s argument in A Democracy of Despots (1995) which states that the clever movement of the despotic spreads in almost every political sphere. In another part, Surya Paloh also expressed his anxiety about the 2024 Legislative Election (Pileg) and Presidential Election (Pilpres) agenda which is still haunted and thick with polarization of identity politics. the arena of endless disputes and conflicts. It is feared that the election will not provide a fundamental solution to the future of the nation and state, but will make this nation weak in heart and mind. The weak way of thinking solutions from state administrators, politicians, and the business world due to the concentration of identity polarization causes unhealthy argument wars and tends to give birth to fraudulent strategies in elections.
The Uncertain Future of Democracy (2017) which Larry Diamond has long echoed does indicate that democracy is experiencing a ‘mild, but protracted recession’. Against this phenomenon, NasDem offers political ideas as a way to keep political parties in critical awareness throughout the ages. It would be nice if all political parties in Indonesia at this time restore their political awareness through the management of state institutions to think and compete for ideas about the spirit of equality.
It is important for political parties today to have awareness that is characterized by at least four characteristics: 1) critical, 2) giving and bringing energy, 3) creating, and 4) healing. Without awareness of these characteristics, our democracy will continue to experience a recession so that democratic practices wither away and do not have a major contribution to the nation and state.
Critical awareness in the political party environment must be carried out by a political education process whose task is to foster and maintain dominant awareness in the culture of equality in Indonesia, which tends to disappear because politics sees more short-term interests, submits to the ethos of consumerism, supports the existing order, or even takes profit from it. Critical awareness is needed in order to free the democratic system from the landscape of irresponsible political power struggles and economic systems that tame and subjugate the poor and needy.
Political parties also need to be managed in a modern and open manner so as not to appear that our democratic system is less concerned with open and tolerant political education and has a narrow and static view and is co-opted with momentary pragmatism. Healthy and measurable political education will produce cadres and politicians who have a chivalrous spirit, are obedient, and become a source of energy that will enable Indonesia to move forward towards a better era and situation. This means that we must always be critical in responding to the existing socio-political realities so that it leads to the growth of hope and new directions towards a future marked by an egalitarian and just social order.
Furthermore, political parties must always renew their capacity to create, namely the ability to identify problems, issues, and concerns that plague the survival of mankind, and to be actively involved in finding answers to them. Then, the answer is applied creatively to achieve the optimal result possible, but still treated as something tentative. The result is considered tentative because it can be retested and reviewed so that, in doing so, it becomes the start of the next cycle of creation.
Furthermore, the capacity to create requires mentors and mentors. Therefore, the issue of the importance capacity building political party administrators must continue to receive attention. Therefore, our democratic system must change the laws of political parties that are deemed detrimental to the will of the people. Political party laws must have a ‘critical room’ in order to continuously develop a healing consciousness.
This is a spiritual strength that comes from commitment and enthusiasm for the realm of democracy because political party laws can always be updated. The spirit of healing becomes very relevant to be applied in every article of the political party law, and not the spirit of destroying, because this healing awareness is not in harmony with hatred and hostility among various groups of people with different religions, social classes, and other backgrounds.
The principle of equality
The absence of serious studies and the courage to look at the failure of the democratic system in the last 20 years makes it difficult for us to show evidence of political equality in the political party environment. In fact, in fact political equality between political parties is a normative nature that has even been explicitly stated in the 1945 Constitution, because in fact equality is not only oriented to access and participation alone.
Equality (equality) must not only be seen from the goals and political process alone, but also must consider social, economic, cultural, and religious conditions. It is only from this perspective that we can formulate the idea of equality of conditions (equality of conditions) among political parties as an approach in formulating policies of a democratic system that is pro to public needs.
A simple illustration of the importance of the principle of equality being applied in the world of politics can be seen from Baker’s (2004) argument in Equality: From Theory to Action, which gives a lot of inspiration in interpreting the meaning of equality. For him, equality of conditions (equality of condition) far more important than equality in the context of access and participation. In equality of conditionswe focus not only on goals and processes (purposes and processes) political education itself, but also related to equality of resources (equality of resources), equality in recognition and reward (respect and recognition), equality in power (equality of power), and equality in caring, solidarity and love (love, care and solidarity). All these types of equality clearly require the intelligence of political parties as the pillars of our democratic system to realize it.
Equality of resources must be proven by creating a more open and non-discriminatory political education system, while equality in recognition and respect must be created not only by building a political culture that respects differences, but also must be expressed in writing in an adequate political legislation scheme.
The equality of power must be seen in the executive-legislative-judicial relationship which is increasingly concerned with a truly democratic democratic process. Thus, the implication of this view will bring openness of view to respect each other’s position and role in building the nation. Democratization in Indonesian politics is a fresh space that must be created so that among the executive-legislative-judicial there is freedom to express their feelings and opinions. In this context, the equality of these conditions is important for our election administrators to do first.
Tyranny of the majority
Victory in every political contestation is a must. However, victory in any political competition must not create the tyranny of the majority, whether due to inter-party cooperation or not. Whatever the story, we already have a constitution that explicitly states the rights of minorities. However, the majority group can override the rule of law
because they are being driven by interests, namely to win as many seats or votes as possible in elections. If with the majority position they can get more public funds, this interest will be more entrenched. This is Surya Paloh’s other concern about the tendency of certain parties or coalitions to synergize with power.
What can be done to address the problems that arise from the sustainability of the majority in power? One of the descriptions of Jon Elster can be raised here (Elster, 1993). According to him, in a macro context, ways to protect the rights of citizens from interference by the majority are; 1) constitutionalism, 2) judicial review3) separation of powers, and 4) checks and balances. The constitutionalism referred to here is of course the democratic one. What needs to be considered and questioned is what rights are included in the constitution and how far the protection is given to these rights. It also needs to be considered whether there are other laws and regulations, especially political party laws, that strengthen the protection of minority rights and equality or not.
About judicial review, Indonesia now has a Constitutional Court which is respected and its decisions are respected. Its authority, in principle, is to examine existing laws (ex-post), not me-review Bill (ex-ante). One of the tests of the mechanism judicial review namely, whether the Constitutional Court can defend the rights of minorities that are disturbed by statutory provisions that are not in harmony with freedom and equality in the political field.
Equally important is the issue of the separation of powers or separation of powers requires that the branches of state power be separated from each other. The judiciary has no legislative power, and the legislature does not depend on the executive. If there are mass media, television, radio, and others belonging to the state, is the independence of the media guaranteed?
Finally, in a democracy, the branches of power are not only separate or independent, but also depend on each other so that the tendency to violate the rights of citizens can be avoided. The important issue here is whether there is a mechanism that will neutralize the tendency of the executive, legislature and judiciary to abuse power. Parliament should be able to oversee the government and the president; and the president has the power or veto over parliamentary powers. Checks and balances must be measurable with clear legal parameters.
As a result, what Surya Paloh is trying to remind about the importance and need for a democratic order that puts the public interest first must continue to be tested by various principles of equality. NasDem is expected to be the pioneer party in building the idea of equal role of political parties in order to avoid excessive polarization of identity. Building our identity is a way to build political equality for every citizen of the nation who makes political parties an effort to improve public services.