United Development Party (PPP)

Indonesia Table of Contents

The United Development Party (PPP; also sometimes referred to as the Development Unity Party) was the umbrella Muslim grouping that developed when the four Muslim parties were forced to merge in the 1973 restructuring of the party system. The four components were Nahdatul Ulama, the Muslim Party of Indonesia (PMI), the Islamic Association Party of Indonesia (PSII), and the Islamic Educational Movement (Perti). The PPP's constituent parties neither submerged their identities nor merged their programs. As a result, no single PPP leader with a platform acceptable to all the sectarian and regional interests grouped under the PPP umbrella emerged. Despite their manifest differences representing divergent santri streams, however, the PPP's parties had the common bond of Islam, and it was this that gained them the government's close attention. The dominant partners were Nahdatul Ulama and the PMI. The PMI was a resurrected version of Masyumi, which had been banned in the Sukarno era. The return of the modernist Islamic interests-- represented by the PMI--to mainstream politics was stage-managed by the government, and the PMI within the PPP was seemingly favored by the government to counterbalance the appeal of Nahdatul Ulama. The rivalry between Nahdatul Ulama and the PMI, while strong, was suppressed for the 1977 electoral campaign. But a severe split in the PPP over candidate selection and ranking on the PPP's electoral list occurred before the 1982 elections, leading the government to intervene on the side of the more docile PMI leadership.

The split between Nahdatul Ulama and the PMI over the political destiny of the PPP became a schism in the wake of the August 1984 PPP National Congress, the first since its 1973 formation. The principal task of the congress was the adoption of the Pancasila as the PPP's basic ideological principle. The party's general chairman, the PMI's Jailani (Johnny) Naro, who was backed by the government, stacked the new thirty-eight-member executive board with twenty PMI supporters, leaving Nahdatul Ulama, the largest of the component parties, with only thirteen seats. The decline in Nahdatul Ulama's influence in the PPP, together with constraints on the Islamic content of the PPP's message, confirmed the traditionalists' perception that Nahdatul Ulama should withdraw from the political process and concentrate on its religious, social, and educational activities. The theme of Nahdatul Ulama's December 1984 congress was "Back to Nahdatul Ulama's Original Program of Action of 1926." While constitutionally accepting the Pancasila as its sole ideological principle, the Nahdatul Ulama congress tacitly opted out of the Pancasila political competition by holding that political party membership was a personal decision and that individual Nahdatul Ulama members were not obligated to support the PPP.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress