, The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Mon, 04/07/2008 11:16 AM | Headlines

The ongoing conflict within the National Awakening Party (PKB) reflects the country’s failure to establish a strong political party system that nurtures democracy, observers say.

Political analyst Muhammad Qodari said the PKB’s internal dispute would only create continued instability in Indonesian politics.

“There have been so many parties in and out of here; it’s not good for political parties or the public,” said Qodari.

He said he faulted political parties in Indonesia for failing to develop an effective conflict resolution mechanism, which had resulted in the formation of splinter groups and the migration of party members to rival parties.

“Internal dispute may prevent a party from building a strong organizational system, while the public will find it difficult to identify with the party,” Qodari said.

The PKB, the fifth-largest faction at the House, is facing its toughest test of unity ever after the party’s executive board formally dismissed party leader Muhaimin Iskandar on Saturday. Muhaimin, however, defied the decision, calling attention to an order by Muslim ulemas linked to the party for him to stay.

Muhaimin also formed an investigative team to identify masterminds of the internal conflict, who he said included party secretary general Zannubah Arifah Chafsoh or Yenni Wahid, a daughter of PKB chief patron Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid. It was Gus Dur who ordered the dismissal of Muhaimin, who is his nephew.

Saiful Mujani of the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) said internal conflict within political parties would adversely affect the process of public policymaking at the House.

“If unsettled, the dispute will contribute directly to the performance of lawmakers in formulating public policies. Lawmakers will waste a lot of energy, which could be used to create high quality legislation, to cope with the conflict,” said Saiful.

Another observer, Fachri Ali of the Indonesian Science Institute, said Muhaimin’s dismissal underlined Gus Dur’s uncontested power within the PKB.

“Honestly, the PKB is owned by Abdurrahman Wahid,” said Fachri.

Both Qodari and Saiful said the centralistic leadership was found in other political parties in the country, which they said did not contribute to democracy.

“The parties’ vision and mission are subordinated by the prominent figures,” said Saiful. “Gus Dur is bigger than the PKB, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is bigger than the Democratic Party and Megawati Soekarnoputri is more prominent than the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle.”

Saiful added that centralistic leadership hampered conflict resolution in political parties.

Most of all, the internal dispute will further degrade public trust in political parties, he said. (alf)