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Research project on Political Parties

The 2004 Indonesian Elections: How the System Works and What the Parties Stand For

In early 2004 CDI commissioned a study of political parties and the new electoral system in Indonesia. The research was motivated by an awareness that, in a year of national and regional parliamentary and presidential elections in Indonesia, little was known outside Indonesia about the country’s political parties and how they were likely to operate in the context of recent constitutional and electoral reforms. The study was undertaken by Dr Stephen Sherlock, a consultant on governance and political change in Indonesia.
Dr Stephen Sherlock
The study outlines the details of Indonesia’s new constitutional and electoral process and analyses the effects that the new system may have on the future conduct of Indonesian politics. It provides a guide to the major political parties, their historical and social origins and their place in the spectrum of ideological, religious and regional divisions. The paper concludes that, despite the recent arrival of democratic politics in Indonesia, political parties have strong social roots and clearly defined electoral constituencies. But the parties remain elitist and centralised organisations and, to date, they have failed to use their connections in society to develop policy platforms that would articulate the interests and demands of their supporters. Parties continue to rely on their connections with powerful patrons and community leaders and to campaign on general promises and appeals to symbols and personalities. Indonesia has taken great strides towards the consolidation of democratic institutions in recent times, but the infusion of a culture of popular participation and accountability has only just begun.

Full Paper pdf | rtf | doc
Sydney Morning Herald features CDI report pdf | rtf | doc

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The Australian National University

Crawford School of Public Policy
The Centre for Democratic Institutions (CDI) supports the efforts of democracies in the Asia-Pacific region to strengthen their political systems. It provides training, technical assistance and peer support for parliamentarians, political party organisers and emerging leaders in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, with a particular focus on Indonesia, East Timor, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji. CDI sponsors research and publications on political change and democratic governance.

Established in 1998, CDI is funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). The Centre is based in the Crawford School of Public Policy, part of the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra.
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