Indonesia Political System

Political system

Short for IN by Abbreviationfinder, Indonesia is a republic whose president is elected in direct general elections. The president has great powers of power and chooses his own government. In Indonesian governments, there are usually ministers from both moderate Muslim parties and secular, nationalist. The legislative House of Representatives is dominated by the same political forces.

Indonesia’s constitution was written in 1945 but has been changed on several points since 1999. The constitution states the country’s state ideology, pancasila, inscribed: belief in a god, humanism, national unity, democracy and social justice.

  • Countryaah: Total population and chart of Indonesia for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.

The President has the highest executive power and is both Head of State and Government. Since 2004, the President and Vice President have been elected in direct general elections for a term of five years. If no candidate receives at least 50 percent of the votes in the first round, the two candidates who receive the most votes in a second, decisive round will meet. The president appoints his own government and can be re-elected.

The country’s highest decision-making body is the People’s Advisory Assembly (MPR) whose 696 members are elected every five years. MPR decides on constitutional changes and sticks out the broad lines of the country’s politics. MPR can dismiss the president. Its members consist of the 560 members of the Legislative House of Representatives (DPR) and the 136 members of the Regional Representatives Council (DPD), elected by the provincial parliaments. DPR members are elected in general elections. The President cannot dissolve DPR. A political party must get at least 2.5 percent of the vote in a parliamentary election in order to take a seat in the DPR.

The constitutional amendments in 1999 meant that the president’s powers were limited in favor of DPR and MPR. Most importantly, MPR was given better opportunities to supervise the president and his powers to adopt new laws were curtailed. All new laws must now be approved by DPR.

Indonesia is divided into 34 provinces, each of which has a governor, a local government and a provincial parliament. The governor represents the central government in the province and has been elected directly by the locals since 2005. In addition, there are five “special regions” with varying degrees of internal self-government: Aceh, Yogyakarta, Jakarta, Papua and West Papua. The provinces are in turn divided into districts, cities and villages. Local parishes have gained political and economic power through decentralization since 2001.

The Supreme Court is the highest judicial body. Its judges are nominated by the House of Representatives and appointed by the President. Under the Supreme Court there are civil and criminal courts, religious courts (which apply Islamic Sharia law in certain civil law cases), administrative courts and military courts. In addition, there is a constitutional court.

Political parties

Indonesian politics is characterized by a balance between secular and Muslim forces. The secular, often nationalist, parties predominate over the Muslims, who usually get around 30 percent of the DPR’s mandate.

In the elections to the House of Representatives (DPR) in April 2019, nine parties entered the legislative assembly. It was one fewer than in the 2014 election (see below). The largest was the secular and nationalist Democratic Party Camp (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan, PDI-P), which also became the largest in the 2009 election. PDI-P increased its number of seats in the DPR from 109 in the 2014 election to 128 seats in 2019. P has its voter base among the poor in Java and Bali. The party is led by Megawati Sukarnoputri, daughter of the country’s first president and freedom hero Sukarno. Megawati’s popularity is also based on the fact that in the mid-1990s she was persecuted by Suharto and thus became a symbol of the democracy movement and opposition to the regime. However, Megawati’s popularity has diminished since her time as president in 2001-2004.

The second largest party in the 2009, 2014 and 2019 elections became Golkar (Partai Golongan Karya), who dominated political life under President Suharto’s reign of 1967–1998. In the 2019 elections, Golkar received 85 seats, down from 91 seats in 2014. Golkar has managed to maintain a strong position in politics through an extensive organization that extends to the most remote parts of the country. The party has since 1999 worked to no longer connect with the Suharto era, but it has maintained good relations with the military. Golkar can almost be described as nationalistic and secular.

The third largest party in the 2014 and 2019 elections became the secular Gerindra (Partai Gerakan Indonesia Raya), which increased from 26 seats in 2009 to 73 seats in 2014 and 78 seats in 2019. Gerindra was founded in 2009 by former general Prabowo Subianto, who had jumped a year earlier by from Golkar. Gerindra acts as Subianto’s political platform. The Exgeneral came second in the presidential elections in July 2014 and in April 2019.

The Democratic Party (Partai Democrat, PD), founded in 2003 by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, stepped back sharply in the 2014 elections, from having become the largest party in 2009 with 150 seats to 61 seats in 2014. It was more than half the seats in Parliament’s lower house.. The reasons for the DP’s crusade were partly that President Yudhoyono could not, in accordance with the constitution, be a third time for the presidential post in the summer of 2014, and that the party was associated with a number of high-level corruption cases during its second term of government in 2009–2014. PD backed further in the 2019 election to 54 seats.

Largest Muslim party in the 2014 elections became the influential moderate National Mandate Party (Partai Amanat Nasional, PAN), founded by Amien Rais, former leader of the Muslim mass movement Muhammadiyah. PAN increased from 43 seats in the 2009 elections to 49 seats in 2014. The second largest Muslim party in the 2014 elections was the Moderate National Revival Party (Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa, PKB), founded by Abdurrahman Wahid (President 1999-2001). PKB went from 27 seats in 2009 to 47 seats in 2014. In the 2019 election, PAN was passed by PKB, which received 58 seats while PAN received 44.

The Welfare and Justice Party (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera, PKS) decreased from 57 seats in the 2009 elections to 40 seats in 2014 but recovered to 50 seats in 2019, thus becoming the second largest Muslim party after the PKB. PKS is described as more fundamentalist than other Muslim parties with representation in Parliament. The Muslim United Development Party (Partai Persatuan Pembangunan, PPP) increased by two seats from 37 seats in 2009 to 39 seats in 2014 but fell back to 19 seats in the 2019 elections. The PPP was formed in 1973 as a merger of a number of Muslim parties.

The Nasdem Party (Partai Nasdem, or Partai Nasional Democrat) received 35 seats in the 2014 election and thus entered the DPR. In the 2019 elections, it increased its representation to 59 seats. The Nasdem party was founded in 2011 by media mogul Surya Saloh, among others. The tenth party to pass the DPR in the 2014 election was Hanura (Partai Hati Nurani Rakyat, roughly the Party of Popular Consciousness), which declined somewhat from 18 to 16 seats compared to 2009. Hanura was formed in 2006 and is led by the controversial former general Wiranto, which was previously strongly associated with the Suharto regime. However, Hanura resigned from parliament in the 2019 elections.

Indonesia Urban Population



President Obama visits Indonesia

US President Barack Obama visits Indonesia where he lived during part of his upbringing. Obama is very popular with the Indonesian people.


Soldiers are filmed under torture by Papuans

A video is posted on the internet showing how three Indonesian soldiers torture two civilian Papuans and accuse them of cooperating with the OPM guerrillas (see Papua).

The President threatened to travel abroad

Yudhoyono cancels a planned trip to the Netherlands after a Moluccan separatist movement threatened to sue him for the government’s alleged cruel treatment of separatists. Although the Netherlands promises not to arrest him, Yudhoyono chooses to stay at home.


Papuans reject proposals for increased autonomy

The Papuan People’s Council (MRP) rejects a government proposal for enhanced autonomy for Papua. Thousands of people gather on the streets of the city of Jayapura and demand a new referendum on the future status of the province.


Islamist leaders are shot to death by police

In a raid on a cafe in Jakarta, police shoot to death Dulmatin, a suspected leader in the Islamic terrorist network Jemaah Islamiah. Dulmatine is believed to be the only perpetrator behind Balidåd in 2002, who was still on the loose.

A strike against Islamist strongholds

The police strike at suspected training camps belonging to groups with links to the Islamic terrorist network Jemaah Islamiah. Many suspected militant Islamists are arrested, of which 14 are prosecuted for planning terrorist acts.

The finance minister resigns for a new top job

Finance Minister Indrawati is leaving to work at a high level within the World Bank instead. Indrawati has been praised for its way of managing Indonesia’s economy during the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, whose effects Indonesia largely escaped. New finance minister becomes bank manager Agus Martowardojo.

Yudhoyono defends Ministers in Centurygate

A parliamentary commission recommends the government to work for Vice President Boediono and Finance Minister Indrawati to come to trial for their roles in the so-called Centurygate. The scandal is based on the fact that the state in 2008 entered the equivalent of $ 4.8 billion to save Bank Century from bankruptcy. Rumors claim that large banking customers have thanked the government through generous contributions to Yudhoyono’s presidential campaign in 2009. Yudhoyono receives sharp criticism when he rejects the Commission’s recommendation, saying that government intervention was necessary to save the Indonesian banking system from collapse.


The former chief of anti-corruption is sentenced to prison

Antasari Azhar, former head of the State Anti-Corruption Commission (KPK), is sentenced to 18 years in prison for ordering the murder of an Indonesian businessman. Azhar was at the arrest in May 2009 KPK’s highest manager. The verdict casts a dark shadow on Yudhoyono’s most important political election promise: the fight against corruption. A witness states at trial that he was forced to cooperate in a police plot to harm Azhar, who gathers many followers who believe in his innocence.