Indonesian Politics – History, Characteristics and Implementation

Indonesia is a very unique country since this country consists of many islands. Each island in Indonesia has its own culture, language, and way of life. Indonesia people also practice various religions and beliefs as well. Islam, Christian, Catholic, Buddha, and Hindu are some of major religions that can be found in Indonesia.

This country also has very interesting history as well, especially political history. From time to time, Indonesia has been experienced many dynamics and developments in political system and political view. This article will give you a quick insight into Indonesian political dynamics from one era to another.

See also: Indonesia Religion – Indonesian Language

The History of Indonesia Politics

Indonesia political life these days is marked with people sovereignty that is manifested in the election to choose parliament members and president every five years. After the fall of Orde Baru (the New Order) that is led by president Soeharto and the beginning of Reformation Era, each election that is held in Indonesia is considered as independent and fair.

However, Indonesia politics still cannot be freed from corruption in government, collusion, and nepotism, and also ‘money politic’ that allows people to buy political position and power in government.

See also: Indonesian Coral Reef – Indonesia Orangutan

All of these issues still can be found in Indonesia politic these days. Some experts consider these issues as the part of process in Indonesia’s development into a full democratic country. These days, according to Democracy Index that is released by Economist Intelligence Unit, Indonesia is still considered as country with ‘invalid’ democracy.

More over, it also needs to be emphasized that Indonesia is considered as democratic country with quite young age and thus it’s very natural that Indonesia will experience some issues in its democratic development.

The current political condition in Indonesia cannot be separated from the long history of politic in Indonesia. The politic history in Indonesia can be divided into several parts which each part has its own characteristics.

Then, the development of politic in Indonesia is also affected by many factors such as religion (especially Islam), colonialism, and political conflicts. For example, the development of politic in Japanese colonialism in Indonesia has different characteristics with the development of politic in the New Order era.

Through time, Indonesia also developed various types of political system as well that are considered suitable for the specific era.

See also: Best Airports in Indonesia – Most Beautiful Fabric in Indonesia

1.Pre-Colonial Era

This era is considered as the first era in Indonesian politics history. Various sources show that Indonesia in the past consisted of various political entities. Before there is government, Indonesia is ruled by many kings that have their own kingdom in several different areas.

In pre-colonial era, political system is centered on single figure that led the people and has specific skills that make this figure different than the people. This figure also has charismatic personality and sometimes this figure also has supernatural power that makes people became obedient. Then its supported by army and has absolute power in the kingdom. People will pay tribute to this ruler as symbol of their obedience.

See also: Sumatran Tigers – Indonesian Education System

2.Colonial Era

The next era in Indonesian politics history is colonial era. Indonesia was colonized by some European countries in different years. The first European country that colonized Indonesia is Portuguese. European country that also colonized Indonesia is the Dutch.

Dutch colonization in Indonesia is the longest one compared to other countries. The main reason these European countries came to Indonesia is to get the spices. During the colonization of these countries, Indonesia is ruled under their political view.

Besides European countries, Indonesia was also colonized by Japanese as well. The politic system that is developed by European countries is definitely different to the political system that is developed by Japanese when they ruled Indonesia.

See also: Indonesian Democracy – Why is Indonesia Important

Moreover, this colonial era brings so many effects to the development of political system in Indonesia. Some elements of current political system in Indonesia are still affected by political system that was brought to this country by those colonialists.

See also: Saman Dance – Gamelan Facts

3.The Old Order

After gained its independency and became the real country, Indonesian people pointed Soekarno as their first president. Soekarno is not only known as the first president of Indonesia but he’s also known as the icon of Indonesian’s struggle to achieve the independency from colonialists. Soekarno had very great burden to build political and social system in Indonesia after colonial era.

There are various political views that are used by Soekarno in ruling the country. However, the basic political view is still democracy. Various political conflicts occurred in this era and it came to its peak when there was a great political chaos in 1960s.

See also: Indonesia Flag – Hinduism in Bali

4.The New Order

After the great political chaos in 1960s, Soekarno is replaced by Soeharto who became the second president of Indonesia. This era is known as the New Order era. Soeharto ruled Indonesia for 32 years and there are many significant improvements in many aspects of life, including social, politic, and economy.

On the other hand, Soeharto is also known as the ruler that promoted corruption and oppression in his government as well. The economy of Indonesia showed great development even though the Indonesia’s debts are also increased as well.

People are oppressed and are forbidden to show their political view and there are many terrible human right cases that occurred during Suharto presidency. When domestic economy that became the foundation of Soeharto’s government collapsed in 1990s, Soeharto lost his power significantly.

See also: Indonesian Tea – Dayak Tribe

5.Indonesian Reformation

After the fall of Soeharto, through massive civil movement, Indonesia declared new chapter in its political history. The era after the New Order is known as Reformation Era. The most significant thing in this era is that people get more power in politics and government issues. Reformation Era is considered as the era when the political power is given back to Indonesian people.

Then, there are massive structural changes in government and political aspects such as power decentralization to provinces and the limitation of presidency period.

On the other hand, there are still some issues in the government such as corruption, poverty, and capital distribution in high class. However, overall, the political condition in this era is considered more dynamic and more conducive compared to political condition in the New Order.

See also: Bird of Paradise – Largest Mosque in Indonesia

Recent Political Condition

Recent political condition in Indonesia is considered not too different than political condition in reformation era. The government still involves people in many major issues and people actively contribute to the development of social politic aspects of this country.

There are some major issues in recent political condition in Indonesia but they are still considered not too significant in changing the overall political condition. Indonesia still learns to become more democratic and more mature in political development. Several progressive changes are made but not give to significant changes in Indonesia politics.

See also: Indonesian Cultures – Unique Facts about Indonesia

Definition of Political System

What is exactly political system? System is a unity that consists of elements or parts that are related and depended on each other. These elements are organized so that they form a complete unity. It means that in a system there must be input, process, output, and feedback. On the other hand, politic came from Greek word ‘Polis’ which means a city that has status as a state and has certain activities in order to keep the development of the city.

Political system can be described as a chain of activities or processes in political society in affecting and determining who will get what, when, and how. Input in political system is people’s aspiration or people’s will while the output in political system is public policies.  People’s aspiration can be categorized into three types. They are:

  • Public demands. Public demands are the demands from member of society which fulfillment must be fought for through many ways and use political means.
  • Public endorsement. Public endorsement is each action, attitude, and thought from member of society that pushes the accomplishment of government’s goal, interest, and actions in political system.
  • Public apathy. Public apathy is an attitude of the member of society that shows ignorance to political life. The ignorance of the member of society shows that there are issues that need to be solved by political system so that it can draw attention from policy makers to respond and follow this issue in the form of certain public policies.

See also: Endangered Animals in Indonesia – National Library of Indonesia

A. Variables in Political System

There are four variables in political system that can bring significant effects. These variables are:

  • Power can be defined as ways that are used to achieve goals. One of the ways to achieve goals is by distributing the resources among groups in society.
  • Interest can be defined as goals that need to be achieved by people or political groups.
  • Policy is the results of interactions between power and interest. Policy is usually appeared in the form of regulations.
  • Political culture. Political culture can be described as subjective orientation from each member of society towards political system.

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B. Characteristics of Political System

There are several characteristics of political systems in Indonesia. Such as:

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The political systems are mixed systems in cultures term. There is no proper structure or culture. Both of modern and primitive. However, in the sense of culture, everything is blended between modern and traditional traditions.

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Political system can be identified by describing its basic units and creating the boundaries and also creating boundaries that separate the units outside the political system. A political system is every action that is related with decision and policy making that is also tied the society.

Political system has important consequences to society which are authority decisions or government policies that are significant to society. These consequences are known as output in political system.

To make sure that the system works properly, consistent inputs are needed. Without inputs, the system will not be able to work properly and without outputs, the system will not be able to identify the actions that need to be taken.

See also: Indonesian Human Rights – Volcanoes in Indonesia

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Based on the facts, there is no political system where the units perform same action in the same time. That’s why the distribution of work is needed in each part of the system.

See also: Bali Tribes – Luwak Coffee

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Politically, integration can be defined as the process of combining various groups, culture, and social aspects in national territorial integrity that forms national identity.

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Political Dynamic in Indonesia

According to Arbi Sanit, political dynamic in Indonesia can be categorized into several different eras. Below are short descriptions of each political era in Indonesia.

  1. 1945 to 1967. In this era, there is a significant change in constitutional democratic political system in Indonesia. The constitutional democratic political system changed into guided democracy. This era is also known as the Old Order.
  2. 1967 to 1999. In this era, there is a significant change in political system in Indonesia. The guided democracy changed into Pancasila Democracy. This era is well known as the New Order.
  3. 1999 to today. The recent political system also brings several changes as well. In this recent political system, centralized political system changed into political system that leads to province autonomy. This era is also known as Reformation Order.

See also: Indonesian Martial Arts – Indonesian Theater

The Implementation of Politics System in Indonesia

In Indonesian politics system, the sovereignty is in the hands of the people and run completely by MPR or Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat (People’s Consultative Assembly). Indonesia follows presidential government system. In this system, president plays a role as the head of the state and also the head of government administration.

Each political era in Indonesia runs different political system. Below are short descriptions about each political system that has been used in Indonesia.

  1. Liberal Democratic Political System (14 November 1945 to 5 July 1959)

Liberal democratic political system is used in Indonesia since the issue of Government Notice in 14 November 1945. This political system is still being used until the issue of Presidential Decree in 5 July 1959. Liberal democratic system has characteristics as listed below.

  • Using Pancasila as the foundation of state.
  • This political system is run based on 1945 Constitution, 1945 RIS (Republik Indonesia Serikat) or United Republic of Indonesia Constitution, and 1950 Tentative Constitution.
  • Using multiparty system with different political bases for each party.
  • The election is done with proportional system.
  • There is rule of law.
  • Non-secular political system.
  • ABRI or Indonesian Republic Armed Forces doesn’t have significant role in the political system.

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  1. Guided Democracy Political System (5 July 1959 to 11 March 1966)

Political system during guided democracy era has characteristics as listed below.

  • Pancasila as the foundation of the state changed into Trisila.
  • Based on 1945 Constitution.
  • Using multiparty system with different political bases for each party.
  • Guided economy system.
  • There is no election.
  • Rule of law.
  • Non-secular political system.
  • ABRI or Indonesian Republic Armed Forces doesn’t have significant role in the political system.
  1. Pancasila Democracy Political System in the New Order (11 March 1966 to 21 May 1998)

This political system has several characteristics. These characteristics are:

  • Pancasila as the foundation of the state.
  • Using 1945 Constitution.
  • Three political parties system which uses Pancasila as the sole foundation for each political party. Golkar is political party that has majority power in parliament and uses the power to support policies that are issued by President Soeharto.
  • The election is done with proportional representative system with registration procedure.
  • Market and cooperative economy system.
  • Rule of law.
  • Non-secular political system.
  • ABRI or Indonesian Republic Armed Forces play roles in politic through doctrine of ABRI dual functions.
  1. Pancasila Democracy System in the Reformation Order (21 May 1998 to today)

The recent Pancasila Democracy System has several characteristics as listed below.

  • Pancasila as the foundation of the state.
  • Amendment 1945 Constitution.
  • Multiparty system is allowed and the parties are allowed to use any foundation as long as it’s not contradictory with Pancasila.
  • The election is done with proportional representative system and uses multi-delegation district system and open registration.
  • Free market mechanism in economy system.
  • Rule of law.
  • Non-secular political system.
  • TNI (the latest form of ABRI) doesn’t play role anymore in political system. The changing of ABRI into TNI is marked by the deletion of ABRI dual functions.

Supporting Components in Indonesian Politics System

Supporting components in democracy political system that is used by Indonesia came in two main types, the political superstructure and the political infrastructure. The political infrastructure is the condition of political life in the society that gives political tasks to state’s institutions in the government.

The political superstructure is everything that is related with the state and power relation between state’s institutions in performing their political tasks.

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1. Functions of Political Infrastructure

There are several functions of political infrastructure. These functions are:

  • Political education, Political infrastructure is used in order to improve people’s political knowledge so that the member of society can participate as optimal as possible in political system.
  • Political infrastructure, it also can be used to join various different interests together and also join various facts of life in the society.
  • Leadership selection, Political infrastructure is used to perform election of leader of candidate of leader for people or member of society.
  • Interest aggression, Political infrastructure can be used to channel every aspiration and people’s opinion to the people who have authority in government.
  • Political communication, Political infrastructure is used to connecting political thoughts in society.

See also: Indonesian Democracy – History of Jakarta

2. Components of Political Infrastructure

The components of political infrastructure are including:

  • Political parties. Political parties are organizations where their members are required to participate in the distribution of tasks in order to achieve their political goals.
  • Interest group. Interest group is a group of people that has certain interest, whether it’s public interest or people’s interest.
  • Political Communication Tools. Political communication tools are the communication tools that are used to connect and unite each group in political system.
  • Pressure group. Pressure group is a group of people that usually use force to reach their goals.
  • Political figure. Political figure is a certain figure that has significant role in political system.

See also: Largest Cities in Indonesia – Poverty in Indonesia

As a conclusion, Indonesian political systems are being under controlled of Government. Then, the development spread around in every territory by head quarter of each province. Its maintained in order to be stabilized Indonesia growth better than before.

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