Democracy in Indonesia has been on the rise for several years, but there are still some problems that persist. While politicians are eager to consult with civil society, they are reluctant to trust their results. They also are skeptical that voters are capable of making responsible decisions about their future. The government is planning to create an index to judge which regions can choose their own leaders. This index is likely to be based on socioeconomic indicators, and it is possible that this index could end up institutionalizing discrimination against poor voters.
The Habibie government enacted Law 22 and Law 25 in 1999, devolving significant powers to local and provincial governments. As a result, provincial governments hold significant powers. The central government has few responsibilities besides foreign policy and religious affairs. The Habibie regime’s reforms to the electoral system are a step in the right direction. However, the process of implementing these changes in Indonesia is lengthy and laborious.
Indonesia’s constitution has made it clear that it will remain a constitutional democracy. In June 1999, it held its first free national election in forty years, and elected Abdurrahman Wahid as the country’s fourth president and Vice President. Megawati Sukarnoputri, the current president, and the vice president were chosen. While the PDI-P party won the most votes in the elections, it was challenged by Golkar, a dominant party during the New Order. The PDI-P party won the most seats in the DPR, but was defeated by several other parties, mostly Islamic.
In addition to the president, the legislature is composed of the Judicial Commission, the Constitutional Court, and the Supreme Court. The judiciary is a branch of government that interprets the Indonesian constitution and sets broad lines of state policy. It was once a unicameral body, but after the 2004 elections, it was dissolved and replaced by a bicameral parliament. The MPR is composed of two houses, the lower house DPR and the upper house DPD. The lower house DPR comprises four-fifths of the MPR seats, while the upper house DPD contains eight chambers. The election is held every four years, and members of the DPR are elected by province-based proportional systems. In addition to the presidential branch, other bodies are largely Islamist, including the PPBN and the PKS.
Indonesia’s democratic experiment has produced a diverse set of political parties, as well as numerous nongovernmental organizations, which are dedicated to promoting democracy. There are no major controversies, but corruption and nepotism still linger in Indonesia. As a result, the political system in Indonesia is prone to partisanship. There is no single party that dominates the country, and there is no government that tries to suppress any type of political activity.