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NDI

The National Democratic Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.

Indonesia

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In the last decade, Indonesia undertook one of the most ambitious programs of institutional reform attempted anywhere. Rapid decentralization of power, the creation of a credible constitutional court and an active and powerful anti-corruption commission are examples of such reform.

Despite these remarkable achievements, Indonesia has yet to fully consolidate its democratic systems and institutions. The 2009 national elections, meant to serve as an example of Indonesia’s continued transition to an established and mature democracy, were instead a step backward in the view of many observers. The country’s electoral system is still in a state of transition, with persistent complaints of flawed voter lists, frequently changing election rules and occasional outbreaks of violence.

The legislative branch, despite significant improvement from its days as a rubber stamp for the Suharto regime, is seen by many Indonesians as a corrupt and ineffective institution. Political parties, which should play a central role in proposing public policy solutions, struggle to define their political vision, engage voters and break free of the patrimonial patterns established in previous eras.

The 2014 presidential and parliamentary elections mark a crucial moment for Indonesia. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term. With no clear presidential front-runner and a higher parliamentary threshold for parties to enter the national legislature, the elections could be the most closely contended in the nation's history. 

Voter turnout, while still high by international standards, has decreased in each national election since 1998. Citizens’ low regard for political parties and the national legislature is likely a leading factor. If fair and free of violence, the 2014 elections could represent a crucial step forward for the consolidation of democracy in Indonesia. Otherwise, Indonesia could risk sliding back down a path of poor governance, illegitimate leadership and conflict.

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NDI has worked in Indonesia since 1996, when it supported domestic efforts to monitor 1997 parliamentary elections. NDI also engaged political parties and citizen election monitoring organizations in preparation for the 1999, 2004, and, now, the 2014 elections.

Since the fall of the Suharto regime, NDI has conducted wide-ranging programs to strengthen political parties, elected bodies and civil society organizations. These programs include helping civic groups conduct independent observation of Indonesia’s local and national elections by using methods such as sample based observations, voter attitude surveys and voter registry audits. The Institute has been especially active in Aceh, helping civil society and political parties establish democratic governance and free and fair elections in the province since the signing of the 2005 Aceh Peace Agreement.

In 2009, NDI focused on providing electoral assistance, strengthening political parties’ ability to compete in elections, and increasing women’s political participation. That year, women’s representation in the national legislature rose by 7 percent — the biggest increase in Indonesian history.

Since the 2009 elections, the Institute has been working with political parties to support party caucuses (fraksi) in the legislature as they generate and review new legislation, conduct government oversight and reach out to constituents. NDI has provided comparative advice from experts around the world, along with information, mentoring and training to party representatives and parliamentary staff at the national and local levels. NDI has also partnered with local institutions, such as the Indonesia Parliamentary Center, to organize a series of issue-based forums to bolster communication between legislators and policy-focused civil society organizations on issues of mutual concern.

NDI has conducted focus groups with party fraksi and the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus of Indonesia to show how qualitative research can be used to develop policy. The Institute continues to partner with the Women’s Political Caucus of Indonesia (Kaukus Perempuan Politik Indonesia - KPPI) to increase women’s leadership within both political parties and elected bodies. In 2005, KPPI received NDI’s inaugural Madeleine K. Albright grant,  which supports organizations that create greater roles for women in political and civic life. NDI provides on-going technical help to KPPI to broaden its membership base, fundraise for and train women candidates, and to sharpen its advocacy on behalf of women’s rights. In addition, NDI works with women’s wings of political parties at the national level to support women leaders.

NDI, together with the Institute for Peace and Democracy (IPD) and the Centre for Democratic Institutions (CDI), initiated the Asian Political Leadership Program (APLP) a regional hub for experience-sharing among political party leaders. IPD is an independent Indonesian nonprofit launched by Indonesian President Yudhoyono in 2008 and supported out of Udayana University in Bali. CDI is an Australian democracy development organization. The program involved 15 emerging political party leaders from 10 countries in Asia and the Pacific region. The partnership emphasizes regional expertise, in particular Indonesian experience and leadership, to impart democratic leadership skills and organizational techniques among peers in the region.

Most recently, NDI’s work in Indonesia has focused on civil society-led voter education and election monitoring in four target provinces: North Sumatra, Central Java, Maluku and Papua. In July 2013, NDI partnered with the Institute for Social and Economic Research, Education and Information (LP3ES) to conduct an independent, systematic voter registry assessment (VRA) in these four provinces. For 2014 polls, NDI will assist the Partnership for Governance Reform (Kemitraan) in organizing nonpartisan citizen election observation. The Institute also will partner with the Society for Elections and Democracy (Perludem) and KPPI in developing voter education strategies targeting key constituencies – including women, youth, and underrepresented ethnic groups. Following the elections, NDI will aid citizen activists conducting nonpartisan post-election monitoring.

Contact Information

For more information about these programs, use our contact form or contact:

Washington, DC
David Caragliano, Program Manager
202 728 5463

News and Views
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Published Publication Title Author
01/01/2014 Civic Updates
Civic Update
National Democratic Institute
12/01/2008 NDI Reports: A Review of the Activities of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs
Newsletter
National Democratic Institute
06/24/2008 National Democratic Institute: SMS as a Tool in Election Observation
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10/01/2007 Changing the Face of Politics: Women in Politics
Brochure
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09/06/2006 Congress of Democrats from the Islamic World: Keynote Address by H.M. Hidayat Nur Wahid at Jakarta Follow-up Conference
Speech
H.M. Hidayat Nur Wahid
12/01/2005 NDI 2005 Annual Report
Report
National Democratic Institute
01/05/2005 Towards a More Effective Indonesian House of Representatives: Options for Positive Change by Legislators
Report
National Democratic Institute
09/22/2004 Voting in Second Round of the Presidential Election Proceeds Slightly Better than First Round
Statement
Institute for Social and Economic Research, Education and Information (LP3ES)
09/20/2004 Projection: Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono Will be Indonesia's Next President
Report
Institute for Social and Economic Research, Education and Information (LP3ES)
08/01/2004 Party-on-Party Monitoring of Asia Electoral Campaigns: Taiwan; South Korea; Philippines; Indonesia
Report
National Democratic Institute
07/07/2004 Yudhoyono/Kalla Win Broad Support, Narrower Constituencies Matter for Other Major Tickets
Statement
Institute for Social and Economic Research, Education and Information (LP3ES)
07/06/2004 Voting in First Round of Presidential Election Proceeds Smoothly and Safely, But High Rate of Invalid Votes at Some Polling Stat
Statement
Institute for Social and Economic Research, Education and Information (LP3ES)
07/05/2004 Statement on Results of National Quick Count for the July 5 Presidential Elections: Projection: No Outright Winner, Second Round
Statement
Institute for Social and Economic Research, Education and Information (LP3ES)
06/30/2004 Advancing Democracy in Indonesia: The Second Democratic Legislative Elections Since the Transition
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06/30/2004 The People's Voice: Presidential Politics and Voter Perspectives in Indonesia
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04/06/2004 PDI-P Support Drops Sharply; Democrat Party and Prosperous Justice Party Make Significant Gain
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04/05/2004 PDI-P Voters Switch to Democrat Party, PPP and PAN Voters Move to PKS
Report
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07/09/2003 Law on the Structure and Composition of the MPR, DPR, DPD and DPRDs (Susduk Law), A Short Guide
Manual|Handbook
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07/08/2003 Law on the General Election of the President and Vice-President passed by the DPR on 8 July 2003, A Short Guide
Manual|Handbook
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05/31/2003 Nominating for Change: Strengthening Women's Position in Political Parties
Manual|Handbook
National Democratic Institute