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Elections in Indonesia

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Elections in Indonesia

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Pancasila (national philosophy)
Foreign relations

Elections in Indonesia have taken place since 1955 to elect a legislature. At a national level, Indonesian people did not elect a head of state – the president – until 2004. Since then, the president is elected for a five-year term, as are the 550-member People's Representative Council (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat, DPR) and the 128-seat Regional Representative Council (Dewan Perwakilan Daerah).

The Council is elected by proportional representation from multi-candidate constituencies. Under Indonesia's multi-party system, no one party has yet been able to secure an outright victory; parties have needed to work together in coalition governments.

The voting age in Indonesia is 17 but anyone who has an ID card (Indonesian: Kartu Tanda Penduduk (KTP)) can vote, since persons under 17 who are or were married can get a KTP.


  • History 1
    • Early elections (1955) 1.1
    • Beginning of the New Order (1971) 1.2
    • Elections under the New Order (1977–1997) 1.3
    • Election reforms (1999–present) 1.4
    • 2009 legislative and presidential elections 1.5
    • 2014 legislative and presidential elections 1.6
  • Future elections 2
  • Voter registration 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
    • Notes 5.1
  • External links 6


Early elections (1955)

Indonesia's first general election elected members of the DPR and the government of Prime Minister Ali Sastroamidjojo. Sastroamidjojo himself declined to stand for election, and Burhanuddin Harahap became Prime Minister.

The election occurred in two stages:

The five largest parties in the election were the National Party of Indonesia (Partai Nasional Indonesia), Masyumi, Nahdlatul Ulama, the Communist Party of Indonesia (Partai Komunis Indonesia, PKI), and the Indonesian Islamic Union Party (Partai Sarekat Islam Indonesia).

Beginning of the New Order (1971)

The first election after the establishment of the "New Order" took place on 5 July 1971. Ten political parties participated.

The five largest political parties were Golkar, Nahdlatul Ulama, the Muslim Party of Indonesia (Parmusi), the Indonesian National Party and the Indonesian Islamic Union Party.

Elections under the New Order (1977–1997)

Map showing the parties/organisations with the largest vote share per province in Indonesia's elections from 1971 to 2009

Elections following the mergers were held under the government of President Suharto. In accordance with the legislation, these were contested by three groups; Golkar, the PPP and the PDI. All elections in this period were won by Golkar.

To ensure that Golkar always won more than 60 percent of the popular vote, the New Order regime used a number of tactics. These included:

  • Reducing the number of opponents: In 1973, the existing political parties were forced to merge into the United Development Party (PPP) and the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI). These were the only parties allowed to contest general elections.[1][2]
  • Weakening the remaining opponents: The two political parties were forbidden to criticise government policy,[3] and the government had to approve all slogans they used. Furthermore, they were not allowed to organise at the village level (where the majority of Indonesians live). To stop the rise of charismatic figures, their candidates had to be vetted by the government. When a potentially charismatic figure (in the form of founding president Sukarno's daughter Megawati Sukarnoputri) became leader of the PDI, the government engineered a political convention in Medan in 1996 to remove her. Ironically, the ensuing disturbances at the PDI's Jakarta headquarters began a chain of events that indirectly led to the downfall of the New Order.[1][2]
  • Coercion to vote Golkar: Civil servants were ordered to support Golkar, or face accusations of insubordination. Private sector workers were reminded of the need for "stability". Many people believed the vote was not secret, and the government did little to persuade them otherwise. Many voters were still at school, and they were warned by teachers of a link between their choice at the ballot box and exam success [2]
  • The vote-counting process: The Golkar votes were counted first, then those of the two other parties. In the 1997 election, by 9pm on the day after voting, Golkar had already been awarded 94% of its eventual vote. By contrast, the PPP had been credited with less than 10% of its final tally.[4]
  • Vote-rigging: Although the counting at the local ballot boxes was conducted in public, with the ballot papers held up and the scores marked on boards, it was at the later stages where irregularities were frequently reported.[2]
  • Multiple voting: There was no effective way of determining who had already voted, allowing many to do so more than once [2]
Summary of 1977–1997 election results
Year United Development Party
(Partai Persatuan Pembangunan, PPP)
The Functional Groups
(Golongan Karya, Golkar)
Indonesian Democratic Party
(Partai Demokrasi Indonesia, PDI)
Votes Seats Votes Seats Votes Seats
1977 18,743,491 (29.29%) 99 (27.50%) 39,750,096 (62.11%) 232 (64.44%) 5,504,757 (8.60%) 29 (8.06%)
1982 20,871,880 (27.78%) 94 (26.11%) 48,334,724 (64.34%) 242 (67.22%) 5,919,702 (7.88%) 24 (6.67%)
1987 13,701,428 (15.97%) 61 (15.25%) 62,783,680 (73.17%) 299 (74.75%) 9,324,708 (10.87%) 40 (10.00%)
1992 16,624,647 (17.00%) 62 (15.50%) 66,599,331 (68.10%) 282 (70.50%) 14,565,556 (14.89%) 56 (14.00%)
1997 25,341,028 (22.43%) 89 (20.94%) 84,187,907 (74.51%) 325 (76.47%) 3,463,226 (3.07%) 11 (2.59%)
Source: General Election Commission[5]
Seats up for election: 360 (1977 and 1982), 400 (1987 and 1992), 425 (1997)

Election reforms (1999–present)

The 1999 election was the first election held after the collapse of the New Order. It was held on 7 June 1999 under the government of Jusuf Habibie. Forty-eight political parties participated.

The six largest parties which passed the electoral threshold of 2% were the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan), the reformed Golkar Party, the United Development Party (Partai Persatuan Pembangunan), the National Awakening Party (Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa), the National Mandate Party (Partai Amanat Nasional), and the Crescent Star Party (Partai Bulan Bintang).

Under the constitution, the new President was elected by members of both houses of Parliament in a joint sitting. This meant that although the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle won the largest share of the popular vote, the new President was not its nominee, Megawati Sukarnoputri, but Abdurrahman Wahid from the National Awakening Party. Megawati became Vice-President.

During its 2002 annual session, the Indonesian legislature. Beginning in 2004, the MPR would be composed of the existing People's Representative Council (DPR) and a new Regional Representative Council (DPD). Because all the seats in the MPR would be directly elected, this called for the removal of the military from the legislature, whose 38 seats for the 1999–2004 period were all appointed.[6] This change and an amendment for direct election of the President and Vice-President were major steps for Indonesia on the road towards a full democracy.[7]

The 2004 legislative election was held on 5 April 2004. A total of 24 parties contested the election. The Golkar Party won the largest share of the vote, at 21.6%, followed by the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle, the National Awakening Party, the United Development Party and newly formed Democratic Party. 17 parties won legislative seats.

2009 legislative and presidential elections

Legislative elections for the Regional Representatives Council and the People's Representative Council were held in Indonesia on 9 April 2009. The presidential election was held on 8 July, with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono winning enough of the vote to make the run-off election unnecessary.[8]

2014 legislative and presidential elections

Legislative elections for the Regional Representatives Council and the People's Representative Council were held in Indonesia on 9 April 2014.[9] The first round of the presidential election will be held on 9 July 2014. [10]

Future elections

Position 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Presidential July and
None September and
DPR (House) All seats
All seats
DPD (Senate)
Gubernatorial Lampung
West Sumatra
Riau Islands
Central Kalimantan
East Kalimantan
North Sulawesi
Central Sulawesi
West Sulawesi
West Papua
South Sumatra
East Java
Central Java
West Java
Mayoral and Regential None Various Various Various Various None


  • In the 2019 general elections the presidency, the national legislature, all governorships, all state legislatures, and mayoral and regential seats will be contested simultaneously.
  • All regional elections scheduled in 2017 and 2018 or 2020 and 2021 will be rescheduled to 2019 but move to Variation of the year.

Voter registration

Voter registration and turnout, 1955–1997
Year Registered voters Voter turnout %
1955 43,104,464 37,875,299 87.86
1971 58,558,776 54,699,509 93.41
1977 70,378,750 63,998,344 90.93
1982 82,134,195 75,126,306 91.47
1987 93,965,953 85,869,816 91.38
1992 107,605,697 97,789,534 90.88
1997 124,740,987 112,991,160 90.58
Source: Ariwibowo et al. 1997, p. 23

See also


  • Ananta, Aris; Arifin, Evi Nurvidya & Suryadinata, Leo (2005), Emerging Democracy in Indonesia, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies,  
  • Ariwibowo, Aloysius Arena; Jauhari, Andy; Setiawanto, Budi; Prihatna, Hermanus; Moechtar, Rudi; Purnomojoyo, Sapto Heru; Mulyono, Sri (1997), Adirsyah, H. A.; Soekapdjo, Boyke; Anwari, Dana K.; et al., eds., Pemilu 1997: Antara Fenomena Kampanye Dialogis & Mega Bintang (in Indonesian), Jakarta: Penakencana Nusadwipa,  
  • Cribb, Robert, 'Elections in Jakarta', Asian Survey 24 no. 6 (June 1984), pp. 655–664.
  • Evans, Kevin Raymond, (2003) The History of Political Parties & General Elections in Indonesia, Arise Consultancies, Jakarta, ISBN 979-97445-0-4
  • Hillman, Ben (2011), "Electoral Governance and Democratic Consolidation in Indonesia", Indonesia Quarterly 3: 311–323 
  • KPU (Komisi Pemilihan Umum - General Elections Commission), accessed 30 June 2006
  • Liddle, R. William, The 1977 Indonesian and New Order Legitimacy, South East Asian Affairs 1978, Translation published in Pemilu-Pemilu Orde Baru, LP3ES, Jakarta, ISBN 979-8015-88-6
  • Loveard, Keith, (1999) Suharto: Indonesia's Last Sultan, Horizon Books, Singapore, ISBN 981-04-1478-1
  • TVRI (Televisi Republic Indonesia - Republic of Indonesia Television) (1997), Indonesian evening news broadcasts of 29–31 May, 1–5 June 1997.


  1. ^ a b Liddle (1978) p40
  2. ^ a b c d e Evans (2003) pp. 21-21
  3. ^ Liddle (1978) p44
  4. ^ TVRI (1999)
  5. ^ Pemilu 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, dan 1997 (in Indonesian), Komisi Pemilihan Umum, retrieved 8 June 2009 
  6. ^ Langit, Richel (16 August 2002), Indonesia's military: Business as usual,  
  7. ^ Aglionby, John (11 August 2002), Indonesia takes a giant step down the road to democracy,  
  8. ^ Indonesia's president re-elected: No wonder why with SBY,  
  9. ^ KPU (General Elections Commission) (8 June 2012). "Launching Tahapan Pemilu, KPU Tetapkan Pemungutan Suara: 9 April 2014 (Launching of the Election Stages, KPU Sets Voting Day: 9 April 2014)" (in Indonesian). KPU Media Center. Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  10. ^ Hill, Cameron (28 March 2014). "Indonesia’s 2014 national elections: a quick guide". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 6 April 2014. 

External links

  • Adam Carr's Election Archive
  • Radio France Internationale in English explainer on 2009 elections plus reports of 1999 elections
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