Building U.S.-Indonesia Mutual Understanding Since 1994

Local Governments, Business Interests and Direct Elections: Assessing Two Rounds of Pilkada in Indonesia

Over the last decade, Indonesian democracy has greatly expanded and matured to empower regular Indonesians to cast their votes and choose their own leaders. After 2004, with the introduction of greater regional autonomy, Indonesians have enjoyed direct elections on a district (kabupaten) level.

General perceptions on district level government in Indonesia range from being non-transparent, nepotistic, and a significant obstacle to investment and the economic goals of the national government.

However, upon closer study, each district’s success is largely dependent on its district executive (bupati), especially those who have been elected directly. Because of the nature of the constituency of districts, many personal factors such as wealth, reputation, and professional background weigh significantly more.

Since the introduction of direct elections, a number of districts throughout Indonesia have improved their economies as district executives promote more attractive business environments for investment.

On July 12, 2012, USINDO hosted an Open Forum with Prof. Alasdair Bowie of George Washington University and Prof. Indria Samego of LIPI (Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia, or the Indonesian Institute of Sciences) to discuss Prof. Bowie’s recent research of district governments in Indonesia, economic opportunities in such regions, and the effects of district elections during the last decade towards business interests.

View the Open Forum Brief »