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Reformasi: The Struggle for Power in Post-Soeharto Indonesia is a non-fiction narrative that charts the course of Indonesian politics between 1996 and 2001.

26 September 2014

Politics: Democratization in Indonesia suffered a major setback with the end of direct elections for regional heads, as President Yudhoyono’s Partai Demokrat ensured a victory for Gerindra Chair Prabowo Subianto and Golkar Chair Aburizal Bakrie in parliamentary voting on a Regional Head Elections Bill. Partai Demokrat members staged a walkout, thereby conferring majority status on Prabowo’s alliance, which voted to scrap direct elections in favor of elections held in regional assemblies (DPRDs). When the DPRD system was in use from 199-2004, it fueled rampant ‘money politics’ and corrupt governance. Prabowo presumably calculates that parties in his ‘Red and White Alliance’ enjoy strong positions in regional assemblies nationwide, and therefore over time his loyalists should garner control of most regional head posts. If so, this would place a check on the ability of President Widodo to implement policies and programs smoothly. Dysfunctional governance seems likely to gradually worsen at the regional level. Meanwhile, Prabowo’s maneuver helps preserve the privileges of the national elite: ending direct elections severs a powerful mechanism for recruiting capable democratic figures from the regional level into national politics. The outcome – determined in large part by the stance of Partai Demokrat – places a major blot on the legacy of the outgoing President Yudhoyono, compromising his credentials for democratization. The vote also shows that Partai Demokrat members sympathize with Prabowo, which bodes ill for the ability of President-Elect Joko Widodo to elicit cooperation in the next parliament. Conceivably, the Constitutional Court could strike down the new law, but in practice this seems unlikely, given the court’s lackluster track record in recent years (Page 2). Signs point to a cabinet of mixed quality (p. 4). Prabowo took over the Gerindra party chair post (p. 7).

Justice: Judges sentenced former Partai Demokrat Chair Anas Urbaningrum to eight years for corruption, but prosecutors failed to prove charges of money laundering (p. 7). Like his predecessor Rusli Zainal, Riau Governor Annas Maamun has become a corruption suspect, as investigators caught him delivering several billion rupiah in cash (p. 10).

Policy News: A new law on Animal Husbandry may permit beef imports from Brazil and India (p. 11). Plans for a Land Affairs Ministry hold promise (p. 11).

Appendix: In a Tempo interview, Anti Corruption Commission (KPK) Chair Abraham Samad hinted at his willingness to serve as attorney general, if chosen (p. 14).

Reformasi Weekly Review provides timely, relevant and independent analysis on Indonesian political and policy news. Delivered electronically every Friday, Reformasi Weekly is written by Kevin O’Rourke, author of the book Reformasi. For subscription information please contact. Reformasi Weekly is a product of PT Reformasi Info Sastra.
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