Supporting the Democratic Transition Process in Indonesia

Statement of Eric Bjornlund,
NDI Senior Associate and Regional Director for Asia
before the United States House of Representatives Committee on
International Relations Subcommitte on Asia and the Pacific

February 16, 2000

Mr. Chairman, members of the subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to comment on the prospects for the consolidation of democracy in Indonesia.

Indonesia is an enormously important country in the midst of a profound but still fragile transition to genuine democracy. In the less than two years since the end of President Soeharto's authoritarian grip on Indonesian politics, Indonesia has been dramatically transformed. In the wake of substantial political liberalization and democratic elections, Indonesia has an historic opportunity to consolidate its democratic system. Yet democratization in Indonesia still faces many serious challenges, both over the next few weeks and months and during the next several years. It is essential for the United States and the international community to recognize the historic window of opportunity that exists and to support the efforts of Indonesian democrats to protect their fragile new democracy.

Many in the international community have yet to fully recognize the extent to which Indonesia has changed. In fact, the changes since Soeharto resigned on May 21, 1998 are nothing short of astonishing. Restrictions on the freedom of the press have been lifted. Political parties have been allowed to organize. The legal framework for the country's political institutions has seen substantial reform. In June 1999, under the watch of independent domestic and international election observers, Indonesia held democratic national elections whose results were accepted by virtually all political forces in the country.

Perhaps most significantly, late last year a new government took over in the most democratic and peaceful transfer of executive power in Indonesia's history. On October 20, 1999, Abdurrahman Wahid was elected the fourth president of the Republic of Indonesia. Chosen through an indirect process by the People's Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat or MPR) as provided in the Indonesian constitution, Abdurrahman Wahid thus became the first democratically elected president in Indonesia's history. The next day the MPR also elected a new vice president, Megawati Sukarnoputri, who headed the most popular political party in the 1999 elections.

The establishment of a legitimate government with broad support heralded a new era of democratic consolidation in the country. Now, there is broad agreement that efforts toward a more democratic political system must continue in order to address the country's ongoing social and economic problems. But the new president and his multiparty, national unity government confront enormous challenges, including dealing with separatist and communal violence, overcoming the economic crisis, addressing past human rights abuses and dealing with the military's deep involvement in politics.

The National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) has been working in Indonesia since early 1996 with support from the National Endowment for Democracy and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Soon after the resignation of former President Soeharto in May 1998, NDI initiated programs to (1) facilitate public input into the development of a framework for the political transition, including the process of constitutional and institutional reform; (2) aid political parties to compete effectively in a more democratic environment; (3) work with civil society efforts to advocate democratic elections and conduct nationwide election monitoring campaigns, which resulted in among other things in the deployment of several hundred thousand pollwatchers, the largest ever domestic election monitoring effort; and (4) encourage civilian capacity to provide leadership, direction, management and oversight of the military. In the course of the domestic election monitoring program, NDI worked with one university monitoring network to design and successfully implement the most complex parallel vote tabulation ever conducted.

In addition, NDI has extensively monitored and reported on Indonesia's transition to democracy, including all phases of the 1999 election process. The Institute organized, in conjunction with the Carter Center, a 100-person multinational team, led by former President Jimmy Carter, to observe the June 7 elections. NDI's public reports issued during the vote count and immediately following the final tabulation of election results contributed to public confidence in the outcome of the election by providing a detailed analysis of the aggregation of the results and reassuring the Indonesian people that the tabulation process was generally transparent, accurate, fair and open to scrutiny. (A more detailed discussion of NDI programs in Indonesia is attached.)


In its effort to consolidate its transition to a more open, democratic political system, Indonesia confronts a number of serious challenges. The process of electing new representatives at national and local levels, the indirect election of a new president in October 1999 and the formation of a new government have marked significant steps in the political transition. Yet, that transition still has a long way to go and could yet be largely undone. The country must successfully address at least eight critically important issues in order to effect fundamental political reform and ensure a successful transition to democracy. These are:

  1. ending the military's extensive role in politics;

  2. addressing the violence associated with calls for independence or ethnic conflict in some regions of the country;

  3. reforming the constitutional structure of government, including the process of electing the president, the structure of the legislature, and the constitutional relationship between the national and lower-tier governmental authorities;

  4. establishing the system of electing the president and legislatures;

  5. establishing the appropriate distribution of powers and financial resources among the different levels of government within the Indonesian state;

  6. empowering the legislative branch, at the national, provincial and local levels;

  7. reforming the judiciary and establishing the rule of law, including addressing the problems of corruption and human rights abuses;

  8. enhancing the ability of civil society - including political parties, advocacy organizations, labor unions and other civil society organizations - to participate effectively in democratic politics.

The first seven of these are challenges of institutional reform. They are questions of whether the new, democratically elected government, national legislature and political establishment can reform and establish institutions that protect and build on the profound but nascent gains already made. Several of these pose immediate challenges that threaten to become crises for the new democratic order. The last challenge is one of demand for effective governance, accountability and transparency. It is the question of whether political parties and civil society organizations can participate effectively and constructively in the political life of their country.

Successful resolution of these issues, in turn, is essential to efforts that can reverse the country's profound economic crisis. Democratic consolidation will contribute to political stability and the restoration of investor confidence, both international and domestic. At this point in Indonesia's history, genuine democracy is absolutely essential to renewed economic growth.

I will address each of these challenges in turn.

  1. Ending the Military's Role in Politics
    The armed forces were the backbone of Soeharto's New Order, and the military remains one of the nation's most powerful institutions. The Indonesian military has always seen itself as a military of the people, with an important role as a force for national unification. This belief is rooted in the military's role in gaining independence for Indonesia from the Netherlands between 1945 and 1949, and was later spelled out in greater scope and detail as the ideology of dwifungsi (dual functions).

    The Indonesian military (now called Tentara Nasional Indonesia - Indonesian National Military or TNI) used dwifungsi to justify its extensive role in politics and the withering of civilian control. The resulting widespread corruption and human rights abuses have damaged the military's claims to popular legitimacy and have compromised its credibility with both the political elite and the general public.

    Few concrete steps have been taken to reduce substantially the military's role in politics. Although the numbers of seats reserved for the military in the national legislature and regional assemblies were reduced before the 1999 elections, the military insisted on retaining its unelected representation in those bodies. Many active-duty and retired officers continue to work in the government's bureaucracy. The military's apparent complicity in the atrocities that unfolded in East Timor after the August 1999 referendum and its reluctance to address human rights abuses in other parts of the country have discredited it further.

    On the other hand, the military has adopted a "new paradigm," and it appears that at least some senior military officers are committed to reform, both generally and as it applies to the military's role in politics. In April 1999, the police were separated from the military as a first step toward decreasing the military's role in domestic affairs, and the military itself has diminished the role of the socio-political affairs office that at one time was one of the most powerful offices of the military. With the installation of the new government, President Abdurrahman Wahid has appointed a civilian defense minister and has elevated the role of senior officers from the Navy and the Air Force, evidentially as a check on the power of the Army. Although the media, the civilian political elite and the public have criticized the armed forces as never before, the military as an institution does not appear to have attempted to derail the overall reform process. But these first, tentative steps need to be followed up with a much more systematic effort at ending the military's role in politics.

    President Abdurrahman Wahid has so far proved willing and politically strong enough to take on individuals within the military establishment that appear to threaten democratic, civilian rule. In January, the President fired military spokesman Major General Sudrajat for publicly questioning the President's role as commander in chief. More recently, when an Indonesian human rights commission implicated former Armed Forces Commander and Defense Minister General Wiranto for the military's involvement in atrocities in East Timor, the President suspended Wiranto from the cabinet. (Wiranto had served as Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs.) Although it followed nearly two weeks of uncertainty, Wiranto's dismissal seems to provide a good indication of the strength of the new democratic government and President Wahid's commitment to establishing civilian supremacy over the military. But while the chances of a coup by elements within the military are remote, there remains the possibility that some within the military or with connections to past regimes may undertake efforts to undermine the new president's ability to govern.

  2. Violence, Calls for Independence and Ethnic Conflict
    In the wake of East Timor's strong vote in August 1999 for independence, Indonesia confronts grave threats to its future as a single, united country. Independence movements have gained momentum in Aceh, Irian Jaya (West Papua) and elsewhere. Armed conflict continues to leave people dead in Aceh in particular, even though the new President has correctly identified the roots of the violence in past human rights abuses and central government dominance of local resources. Meanwhile, the country has been increasingly plagued in the last year by sectarian violence in the province of Maluku in Eastern Indonesia and elsewhere. These strong challenges to governmental authority represent create profound difficulties for the country's new political system.

    The resolution of these problems is critically linked to the question of accountability of the military and others for human rights violations, and also to the outcome of the debate on central-regional relationships within Indonesia as a whole. It is, however, now increasingly being accepted that, in Aceh in particular, the achievement of any settlement acceptable to a sufficiently wide range of opinion to hold will require special constitutional and/or practical autonomous arrangements.

  3. Constitutional and Institutional Reform
    The establishment in late 1999 of new legislative bodies and a new national government marked the end of the first major phase of the Indonesian transition to democracy. The next phase, which has already begun, will include the process by which the elected institutions grow into fully functioning democratic bodies and the debate over new constitutional arrangements and associated legislative and institutional changes.

    Between now and August of this year, Indonesia will consider fundamental constitutional reforms. Weaknesses in the current constitutional framework include the byzantine process for electing Indonesia's president, which, although it arguably worked well in 1999, risks allowing special interests and undemocratic forces to control the process of choosing the president and vice president. The Constitution also establishes legislative and judiciary branches that are extremely weak, and it contains no guarantees of civil and political rights. More generally, the Constitution, which was written as an emergency document on the eve of the declaration of independence in 1945, contains many vague provisions. This has facilitated its use since 1959 to legitimize authoritarian rule.

    There appears to be emerging consensus that the 1945 Constitution must be amended to address weaknesses in the country's political structure. At the same time, there appears to be broad agreement that the preamble, which establishes the pan-religious, nationalist state ideology of Pancasila, should be left untouched. This consensus, even among Muslim parties, means that there is much less chance of reopening the polarizing debate from the 1950s about whether Indonesia should be a Pancasila-ist, socialist or Islamic state.

    The 700-member People's Consultative Assembly or MPR is the body empowered to elect the president, establish the principles and broad guidelines of state policy, and amend the Indonesian constitution. The MPR includes all members of the national legislature, the People's Representative Assembly (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat or DPR) - including those appointed by the military - and other members chosen by elected provincial assemblies and interest groups. In October 1999, the MPR began a process that could lead to fundamental constitutional reform regarding presidential elections, the balance of powers among government branches, the protection of regional interests, and other issues of great significance.

    The 1999 general session of the MPR produced amendments to nine of the Constitution's 37 articles. The MPR decided to follow U.S. practice in amending the constitution, in which the full original text is accompanied by changes to these nine articles, which as a whole are referred to as the First Amendment. The First Amendment focuses on strengthening the position of the legislative and judicial branches vis-a-vis the executive branch. The First Amendment also reaffirms an MPR decree from November 1998 that limits the president and vice president to two five-year terms. Nonetheless, the Amendment does not address the more fundamental problems with the 1945 Constitution.

    The MPR did, however, authorize a committee to consider further constitutional change and report to its next plenary session, scheduled for August 2000. Fundamental issues to be addressed include:

    1. the possible development of a bicameral legislature with representation for the country's diverse regions in an upper house, perhaps modeled on the U.S. Senate;
    2. revisions of the respective powers the national, provincial and district governments, including the possibility of entrenchment through federal provisions in the constitution;
    3. the separation of powers and the establishment of checks and balances among the three branches of government; and
    4. the direct election of the president and vice president.

    In addition, the MPR committee is considering other elements of the constitution, including the possible entrenchment of human rights provisions, the precise role and function of the Supreme Advisory Council and the Central Audit Board, the possible independence of the Bank of Indonesia, and the appointment of senior judges.

    Because of the generality and vagueness of the 1945 Constitution, Indonesia has also established the basic institutions and structure of government through laws passed by the national legislature. These include laws enacted in January 1999 governing elections, regulating political parties and defining the structure and composition of national, provincial and district legislative institutions. Moreover, laws governing decentralization of governmental authority and revenue sharing were enacted in May 1999.

    These are important precedents. But to ensure broad acceptance and legitimacy for constitutional reforms, the newly elected government and legislative bodies must initiate a more comprehensive, transparent and participatory reform process. The process of electing new representatives at national and local levels, the election of a new president and the formation of a new government have provided the new representatives with the legitimacy and mandate they need to take on a range of issues that must be addressed in order to advance the democratic transition.

  4. Reform of the Electoral System
    The electoral system must be substantially reformed. While the legal framework for the 1999 elections provided sufficient basis for elections that were broadly accepted, that framework was flawed and could undermine democracy in the future.

    Advised by a team of independent professionals, the previous government in late 1998 proposed a district election system for Indonesia. The drafters sought to increase legislative accountability and improve ties between representatives and constituencies. The previous DPR, however, largely at the behest of new parties, rejected the proposed district system and established a complex hybrid based largely on the proportional system that had been in use in Indonesia since the first elections in 1955. Nonetheless, proponents of district-based elections remain active in their efforts to revive the debate for the future. A coherent electoral framework with broad public support is essential for the legitimacy of future elections and the consolidation of the democratic transition.

    Other aspects of the electoral system will require further debate as well. The seats reserved for representatives of the military and police should be abolished at all levels. The composition of the election authorities, in which every party, regardless of its size, is represented on the election commission or Komisi Pemilan Umum (KPU) and all other lower-level election bodies, proved unworkable and threatened the very legitimacy of the 1999 elections; the MPR itself has called for a new, independent electoral authority. The election dispute investigation and resolution system will require further restructuring and strengthening. Finally, the laws and regulations concerning campaign financing must be reviewed and improved.

  5. The Distribution of Powers and Finances between Central and Regional Authorities
    Under Soeharto, nearly all political and economic power in Indonesia was vested in the central government in Jakarta. Provincial governors and district heads (regents and mayors) were little more than Jakarta's administrative and political representatives in the regions. Provincial and district assemblies, by law, were considered part of the corresponding executives. Tax revenues and other proceeds from the major industries were funneled to the central government first, and only then was a small portion returned to the originating region.

    The idea of devolving significant authority from the center to the regions gained prominence during the election campaign when Amien Rais, Partai Amanat Nasional leader and now MPR speaker, proposed that Indonesia consider adopting a federal system. This proposal was widely criticized, in part because the term "federalism" retains strong negative connotations in Indonesia due to Dutch efforts in 1949 to use a federal system to undermine Indonesian nationalism.

    Nevertheless, Rais's proposal began a debate on center-region relations, with many calling for greater regional autonomy as an alternative to federalism. Furthermore, the previous government took the first steps in this direction when the old legislature passed new laws on regional government and on center-region financial relations. These laws devolve specific and substantial powers to provincial and district governments. They also provide provincial and district assemblies a more significant role in the selection of corresponding regional government executives - governors, regents and mayors - and they provide substantial additional resources to local governments. Although many commentators have criticized the new laws, that were enacted by the previous legislature which was not democratically elected, the mood now appears to be that some action on the issue of distribution of powers and resources is urgent and that details and problems can be worked out later.

    The original timetable for the implementation of this legislation was 18 months to two years, and a new Ministry for Regional Autonomy has been created. The Minister, Ryaas Rasyid, and his team are working to speed up this timeframe; newly elected provincial and district assemblies are already in the process of choosing their own governors, regents and mayors. There is a strong perception within the Ministry and some other parts of the government that the attempt to resolve the specific issues of Aceh, Maluku and Irian Jaya should not be confused with the general issue of distribution of powers and resources within the Indonesian state.

    In addition to the practical difficulties, there is a clear conflict between those who favor decentralization and the ministers and senior officials of some sectoral ministries, who see their sphere of responsibility being rapidly and radically diminished. In addition, fears that devolution will allow some localities to make misguided decisions are particularly pointed; both central officials and environmentalists, for example, worry about the grant of logging permits in tropical forests and the attempt to control illegal logging. The issue of the role of different levels of government in the planning of natural resource use is perhaps the most controversial part of all of the devolution debate.

  6. Empowerment of the National Legislature and Regional Assemblies
    The democratization process in Indonesia must ensure that the national, provincial and district assemblies play a more meaningful role in public debate, policy development and oversight of the executive branch and the military. Under Soeharto's New Order government, the national legislature (or DPR) was little more than a rubber stamp for legislation and budgets presented to it by the executive branch. The DPR's committee system was weak, and its rules of procedure hampered its ability to function effectively. In addition, the legislature was unable to appropriate for itself the financial and human resources necessary to provide effective oversight of the executive branch.

    Even without structural changes through constitutional reform, the new DPR and its regional counterparts already are much stronger and more activist bodies. First, because they have been democratically elected, these bodies have substantially greater legitimacy. Moreover, recruitment of candidates changed dramatically as parties were able to organize freely, choose their own candidates, and compete in a much more open and fair process. Under the new law on regional government, the regional assemblies are now legally separate from the corresponding executive branch institutions. Thus, the new legislators enjoy popular legitimacy and significantly greater independence at all levels. Nonetheless, much work remains to be done to broaden understanding of the importance of the legislative branch and to build the capacity of the national legislature and regional assemblies to serve as effective multiparty lawmaking and representative institutions.

  7. Establishing the Rule of Law: Strengthening the Judiciary and Addressing Corruption and Human Rights Abuses
    Notwithstanding its rhetoric, the Soeharto regime demonstrated no commitment to or understanding of the rule of law. The Supreme Court is subordinate to the executive branch and has no power to review the constitutionality of legislation. Judges lack independence, as they report to both the Supreme Court and the Ministry of Justice. New legal institutions, including an independent judiciary and a commitment to the rule of law, will be essential to democratic consolidation.

    More generally, the Indonesian government and the Indonesian legal system are riddled with corruption. The problem of corruption represents a serious threat to the transition to democracy and establishment of effective, transparent governance.

    The reform agenda also must confront profound issues of transitional justice. The Indonesian political establishment and public must debate and decide how to deal with the human rights violations and corruption that were rampant in the past. These issues are inextricably intertwined with the military's role in politics and the grievances of the regions, making them even harder to solve.

  8. Building Civil Society and Political Parties
    Civil society was unprepared for the sudden opening of opportunity that followed Soeharto's resignation. Under Soeharto's New Order regime, civil society operated within limited political space. The regime sought to organize civil society around various "functional groups." In essence, the government determined which groups to include in national consultations and who would be the representatives of these groups, making for highly centralized decision-making structures within the organizations. At the same time, nongovernmental organizations - especially the new human rights and democracy advocacy groups that emerged in the 1990s, often with US support - developed various strategies to avoid government interference in their affairs, such as eschewing formal membership and retaining control and management of the organizations in a small group of individuals. These survival strategies were important for these organizations, but in many instances they sacrificed internal democracy and organizational development in order to deflect governmental control.

    Programs of Indonesian nongovernmental organizations, university-based networks and other civil society groups to educate voters and mobilize election monitors made an enormous contribution to public confidence in the 1999 elections. In addition to improving the quality of the election process, providing a check on fraud and building public confidence, these efforts energized broad civic involvement in the political process and may have begun to transform public attitudes toward national politics. The continued involvement and empowerment of civil society will be essential to the success of the transition to democracy in Indonesia.

    Civil society organizations in Indonesia must build on these impressive voter education and election monitoring efforts by building organizations, maintaining new networks, monitoring government performance, advocating reform, educating the public, and conducting research about policy and public opinion. At the same time, the government must be encouraged to become more open to the participation of civil society and the public in policy development and other government activities.

    Political Parties
    Under Soeharto, only three government-sanctioned parties were permitted to exist. These three parties, subject to strict government control and interference in even internal party affairs, were never effective vehicles for the political aspirations of Indonesian citizens.

    Since the resignation of Soeharto in May 1998, a large number of political parties have emerged and opportunities for public debate have grown exponentially. Forty-eight political parties met the legal and administrative requirements to compete in the 1999 general elections, and 21 now have seats in the national legislature. Despite the new opportunities for public dialogue on political issues, however, these parties essentially failed to develop policy positions and platforms for use in the election campaign. Rather than engage in debate on political issues, parties, almost without exception, resorted primarily to symbols, colors and motorcades of supporters as their primary vehicles for campaigning - despite the fact that the Indonesian public was rapidly developing political awareness and encouraging real debate on policy issues.

    Likewise, Indonesia's political parties should be encouraged to take advantage of this period of political openness and the increasing political awareness of the Indonesian electorate. Parties also must build the capacity necessary to expand their role in the political life of Indonesia and new political leaders, committed to effective, democratic parties and to political competition within a democratic framework, must emerge.


The United States has played an important role in supporting Indonesia during this initial phase of its democratic transition. The United States government provided essential diplomatic and economic support in the tumultuous period immediately following the resignation of President Soeharto, including support through the U.S. Agency for International Development for the development of democratic institutions. As a result of this timely assistance, U.S. democratic development organizations were among the first groups to arrive in Indonesia during 1998 and were able to offer assistance and support in the critical period leading up to the June 1999 elections. The administration and the congress showed foresight by responding quickly and appropriately during such an important and uncertain time. Indonesia remains, however, at a critical juncture, and it is essential that the United States government and other international actors continue to proactively support of the efforts of Indonesian democrats to protect and consolidate their new democracy.

To this end, the United States government and others in the international community should support targeted, realistic programs to assist Indonesia in confronting the challenges to its democratic transition. Sufficient funding for programs that support political participation and the development of democratic institutions is particularly important during this period. Programs carried out by American and other international organizations can help nurture the development of a the full range of organizations and institutions necessary to the success of democracy: the new government, provincial and district governments, national and regional legislatures, political parties, CSOs, including monitoring and advocacy groups, the judiciary and the legal profession, trade unions, the media, and the process of constitutional and electoral reform.

The course of Indonesia's political transition will be largely determined in the next year or two. In the upcoming months the country will make fundamental decisions that will determine the nature of its political system and will establish important precedents that are likely to have influence political practices long into the future. At the same time Indonesia must confront profound challenges. International support is particularly essential at this critical time in the country's history. Such support will help Indonesia to secure its place as the world's third largest democracy.


NDI has been working in Indonesia since early 1996 with support from the National Endowment for Democracy and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

1996 to 1998 Programs

Supporting Domestic Election Monitors
In 1996 the Institute began assisting the Independent Election Monitoring Committee (Komite Independen Pemantau Pemilu - KIPP), the country's first formal independent election monitoring organization, in its efforts to monitor the flawed May 1997 parliamentary elections. With NDI assistance, KIPP organized a serious effort to monitor those elections and thereby established an important precedent for domestic election monitoring and organized citizen involvement in the political process.

Civil-Military Dialogue
In early 1998, NDI initiated a partnership with the Center for Security and Peace Studies (CSPS) at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta to promote dialogue about pluralism and democracy among young civilian and military leaders. The program brought together participants from Gadjah Mada University and the National Military Academy (AKMIL) in Magelang to discuss transition issues and the role of the military in a democracy.

1998 to 1999 Programs in Support of Democratic Elections

The thaw that began immediately upon Soeharto's resignation in May 1998 enabled NDI for the first time to establish a presence in Jakarta in July 1998. A grant from USAID on September 30 enabled NDI to substantially increase its presence in country and the scope of its democratic development programs. The programs were designed to: (1) aid emerging and pre-existing political parties to compete effectively in a more democratic environment; (2) work with civil society efforts to advocate for democratic elections and to carry out nationwide election monitoring; and (3) facilitate public input into the development of a framework for political transition, including initial steps to encourage and inform dialogue between military officers and leaders of civil society. NDI also organized a comprehensive international monitoring program.

  1. Assisting Political Parties
    Because effective political parties are important and necessary components of stable democratic governance, NDI has been aiding Indonesian political parties to compete in the new environment. NDI has provided technical assistance to political parties, on a nonpartisan, inclusive basis, through a series of workshops and consultations on fundamental issues such as strategic planning, platform development, communications and campaign methods.

    To further support party development, in March 1999 NDI established a resource center to help party leaders and candidates to inform their campaign programs, messages and platforms, to monitor the media, and to practice their interview and message delivery skills. The center has a small, simulated TV studio with a video camera for party and candidate training. The center also collects and organizes clippings from the Indonesian print media as well as copies of radio and TV political talk shows. It directly provides a daily index of pertinent news clippings and broadcasts to all political parties contesting the elections. NDI has continued to provide these resources and training services to political parties during the post-election period, and has additionally extended its media training to members of the new government upon request.

  2. Assisting Domestic Election Monitoring Organizations
    NDI has encouraged the development of domestic monitoring efforts on three fronts: (1) promoting and assisting coordination among national and regional monitoring groups; (2) providing information on technical details relating to program implementation; and (3) supporting programs to enhance the public image of, and recruit volunteers for, monitoring efforts and monitoring groups. The Institute worked with three principal national networks that mobilized large numbers of pollwatchers for the June 7 elections: the Independent Election Monitoring Committee (KIPP), the University Network for Free Elections (UNFREL) and the Rectors' Forum for Democracy. NDI has helped with technical assistance on creating training manuals and materials and has provided technical experts to work directly with these groups. In addition, for the June 7 elections, NDI helped the Rectors' Forum to organize and execute the largest and most complex parallel vote tabulation ever undertaken anywhere in the world. NDI also worked with the three national monitoring groups to develop a major public relations campaign to explain the critical importance of domestic election monitoring and to recruit volunteers through television, radio and print media. In conjunction with this campaign, NDI supported a "hotline" service for perspective monitors and served as a reporting point for electoral violations.

  3. Facilitating Input into the Transition and Assessing the Framework for Elections
    NDI sought to increase the amount and quality of information, especially information about democratic transitions in other countries, available to Indonesians. NDI organized a series of consultations and international assessment missions designed to analyze the electoral process at key junctures, especially surrounding the legislative elections.

    After Soeharto's resignation in May 1998, NDI quickly responded to requests for assistance. NDI sent an assessment team to Indonesia in early June 1998. In July 1998, the Institute worked with the University of Indonesia to organize an international conference on political reform. NDI arranged the participation of prominent political leaders from South Africa, the Philippines and Hungary, each of whom had participated in transition negotiations and had served on the election commission in his own country.

    NDI again brought small teams of international experts on election systems and political transitions to Indonesia in November 1998, February 1999 and early May 1999. Each of these teams worked with NDI's in-country team to assess the prospects for democratic elections, including the political environment, administrative preparations and the emerging legal framework for elections, political parties and legislatures. NDI prepared public reports that provided valuable input to DPR members, party leaders, civil society activists and the international community. In February 1999, NDI helped organize a critically important meeting between 67 political parties and the "Team of 11," which was charged with determining eligibility of parties to contest the elections.

  4. International Observation Program
    Building on NDI's assessments in the pre-election period and other democratic development programs in Indonesia, NDI and The Carter Center organized a joint international monitoring program for the June 7 elections. The two organizations fielded a delegation of approximately 100 observers from 23 countries, including political party leaders, elected officials and those who formerly held elected office, election and human rights experts, legal scholars, regional specialists and civic leaders. Former President Jimmy Carter, led the election delegation. Delegates were deployed to 26 of Indonesia's 27 provinces. On behalf of the delegation, President Carter offered a preliminary assessment of the election process on June 9, 1999.

    In response to concerns that the aggregation of election results was extremely slow and to allegations of manipulation of the results and election fraud, NDI re-deployed seven teams of observers across Indonesia immediately following the election to monitor and report on the counting process. A second post-election Mission statement was issued on June 20 assessing the reasons for the delay in the announcement of election results and reassuring the people of Indonesia that the tabulation process was generally transparent, accurate, fair and open to scrutiny. On behalf of the joint mission, NDI prepared and issued a third post-election statement on July 15 that compiled and compared election results for each province from the election authorities with those available from several unofficial sources. This analysis confirmed that delays in the vote count neither appeared to have been caused by nor to have created the opportunity for significant manipulation of the vote count and contributed to public confidence in the election results.

    On August 26, based on the analysis of NDI, the joint Carter Center/NDI mission issued a report that expressed concern about the process of forming the DPR and the MPR. NDI continued to monitor post-election developments though the presidential and vice presidential elections in late October, and in November issued a report that assessed the MPR session, and highlighted further challenges to democratization that will face the new government.

Post-Election Programs in Support of Democratic Consolidation

Building Civilian Capacity and Facilitating Dialogue
In late 1999, NDI began a new program to strengthen civilian capacity for leadership and oversight of the military. This program builds on NDI's earlier partnership with the Center for Security and Peace Studies. Indonesia is one of the countries targeted by the Partnership on Democratic Governance and Security (PDGS), a global partnership of NDI and civil-military institutes from the United States, Argentina and the Philippines to promote the worldwide exchange of information and analysis about governance and security issues, to conduct country-specific programming to strengthen civilian capacity for leadership, oversight and management of the military in six countries, and to strengthen the capacity of civic organizations in Latin America, Asia and West Africa to address civil-military relations.

NDI has begun a series of activities designed to strengthen civilian institutions in Indonesia critical to civilian leadership, direction, management and control: the legislature, the media and leading universities. NDI conducts training on defense-related issues for the DPR's Commission I, which oversees the military, and the media; offers expert consultations on governance and security in the post-election environment; build the capacity of academic institutions and think tanks to research and analyze security policy and the institutions of the military. NDI will also sponsor regional-level dialogues between civilian and military leaders. Such activities will build on NDI's prior work in Indonesia and its ongoing global civil-military program.

Civil Society Capacity-Building
As part of an effort to strengthen the role of civil society in the post-election period, NDI organized a training seminar on civic advocacy for CSO leaders in September 1999. The Institute has conducted a comprehensive needs assessment of civil society organizations, meeting with more than 30 organizations since the close of the 1999 election process, and this week has convened, in conjunction with Indonesian partner organizations, a national roundtable on the capacity-building challenges facing civil society.

Supporting Constitutional and Institutional Reform
In November and December 1999, NDI organized a series of consultative meetings to discuss political reform issues with MPR members, DPR members, government representatives and civil society organizations. At the request of the MPR Chairman, NDI produced a document outlining comparative constitutional arrangements in 16 different countries, a document which the Institute plans to refine and make publicly available. In December 1999, NDI sponsored a visit to Jakarta by a South African government official with expertise on decentralization and reform of intergovernmental relations to share his country's experiences with Indonesian government officials, civil society leaders and others. Based on the positive reaction to this program, the Institute expects to organize similar exchanges of comparative experiences in constitutional and institutional reform during the year 2000. The Institute also continues to work closely with Indonesian partner institutions to encourage a civil society voice in the reform process.

Encouraging Democratic Legislative Practices
Also in November and December 1999, NDI conducted a needs assessment with the new DPR and, in conjunction with leaders and members of the body, identified numerous challenges to the furthering of democratic practices in the national legislature. At the request of DPR leaders, NDI also reviewed a draft code of conduct for legislators and provided written comments on the draft to the code's drafting committee, based on international norms for legislative ethics regulations. To address further the challenges facing the new DPR, in early 2000 the Institute will assist the legislative secretariat to organize a comprehensive orientation session for new DPR members and a program on the development of a parliamentary ethics regime.