Most home and worldwide commentary on Indonesia’s 14 February elections has centered on the presidential race. However on the identical day, Indonesians may even vote for legislators at district, provincial and nationwide ranges. Nearly 10,000 candidates will compete for the nationwide legislature alone, in what would be the nation’s sixth legislative election because the collapse of Suharto’s authoritarian regime in 1998.
Legislative elections are a vibrant affair in Indonesia. The streets are plastered with marketing campaign posters months upfront of voting day, candidates maintain gruelling rounds of public occasions, and so they develop refined social media campaigns. Most candidates and their (typically very giant) marketing campaign groups additionally make investments enormous monetary assets into distributing patronage, handing out every little thing from rice and cooking oil, to clothes and money.
Voter turnout is comparatively excessive in Indonesia in comparison with the regional and OECD averages, and Indonesians categorical sturdy and constant assist for his or her democratic system and legislative elections. On the identical time, the common voter is sceptical about political events and in regards to the nationwide legislature too: when polled, Indonesians usually place events and the nationwide parliament, the DPR (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat/Individuals’s Representaive Council) on the backside of a listing of establishments they belief. (The army and the president normally come out on prime.)
So what do Indonesian voters imagine their legislators ought to be doing, and how much parliament do they really need?
As a part of a broader mission on political illustration in Indonesia, we performed a nationally consultant survey in June 2023 that measured how Indonesians understand democratic illustration, and the way they really feel in regards to the composition of the parliament, whether or not it represents strange Indonesians, and the work that legislators do. The survey interviewed 1,200 respondents nose to nose, with a +/-2.9% margin of error.
The outcomes have been hanging: most Indonesians categorical sturdy assist for a extra equitable parliament, and for legislative work that focuses on programmatic insurance policies over particularistic initiatives. Right here we provide a quick snapshot of a few of our findings.
Do voters really feel their legislature is broadly consultant?
We started by asking respondents in regards to the extent to which they really feel elections are capable of produce a parliament that displays voters’ views and pursuits. Indonesians have been divided: round 47% felt the parliament is broadly reflective of voters’ pursuits, and 45% disagreed (see Determine 1 beneath).
Determine 1: Does the DPR replicate voters’ views and pursuits?
After we dug deeper into the info, we discovered that class indicators, and specifically schooling, have been correlated with a destructive view of the DPR’s capacity to replicate voters’ pursuits. For instance, virtually 60% of college educated Indonesians, and over 65% p.c of Indonesians within the prime earnings bracket (i.e. over 4 million rupiah/A$400 monthly) felt the parliament was not taking part in its consultant function.
Satirically, most legislators have a background akin to those that usually tend to criticise them, i.e. they’re extra more likely to be properly educated, rich and from an city space. As political campaigns have change into costlier in Indonesia, higher class candidates have come to take pleasure in a robust electoral benefit. But it appears decrease lessons residents usually tend to really feel parliament broadly displays voters’ pursuits.
Mapping the Indonesian political spectrum
A brand new survey reveals that political events are divided solely by their attitudes on Islam.
One potential clarification is that elected politicians are likely to cater to the wants of decrease class voters. Basically, legislators’ relationships with constituents develop via the availability of products and providers (meals, money, entry to hospital beds and to different providers), typically on a extremely private foundation. Decrease class residents want this form of help greater than higher class Indonesians, who’re much less depending on legislators to behave as brokers of their dealings with the state. In flip, higher and center class voters work together far much less with legislators, both throughout or between marketing campaign durations.
What do voters assume legislators ought to be doing?
We then requested respondents what they imagine are legislators’ two most necessary duties. Every of the choices have been designed to replicate distinct methods voters would possibly conceive of illustration. Choices #1 and #3 in Determine 2 (beneath) seize the notion that representatives ought to work above all to fulfill constituents’ concrete wants. We count on this to be a preferred selection, as a result of it displays the clientelistic relationships that we all know DPR members develop with their constituents in Indonesia. Choices #2 and #4 seize a programmatic or policy-oriented understanding of legislative operate and, in flip, illustration.
Determine 2: What are legislators’ major duties? (Select as much as two)
Once more the solutions have been diversified, with respondents divided between seeing DPR members’ most necessary job as arranging authorities help for constituents, or seeing their major function as encouraging insurance policies and laws for the welfare for the citizenry extra broadly. Round a 3rd of individuals seen improvement initiatives as representatives’ major duties, and an analogous quantity believed their elected representatives ought to be delivering on events’ programmatic guarantees.
What ought to the DPR appear like?
What in regards to the composition of the DPR? Do Indonesians really feel that Indonesia’s key social teams are adequately mirrored within the make-up of nationwide parliament?
This query speaks to scholarly work that examines assist for descriptive illustration: the concept voters wish to be represented by members of their very own group, whether or not that be primarily based on gender, ethnicity, faith, class or another id class. Utilized to the nation as a complete, it means that the legislature ought to comprise a mixture of people from such teams that mirrors the composition of the broader group: as a consultant physique, it ought to “appear like” the nation it represents. The logic is that political representatives who’re themselves from a particular group will finest advocate for that teams’ rights, pursuits and wishes.
Our survey requested Indonesians a sequence of inquiries to gauge how necessary this type of illustration is to them, and whether or not they needed a DPR that seemed completely different alongside descriptive strains. We requested them to agree or disagree to the next statements:
Within the DPR, solely members of the decrease to center class (comparable to farmers or laborers) are capable of successfully signify the views and pursuits of the decrease center class.
Within the DPR, solely feminine legislators are capable of successfully signify the views and pursuits of ladies.
Within the DPR, solely legislators who’re non secular minorities (Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Confucians) are capable of successfully signify the views and pursuits of minority non secular group.
Determine 3: Descriptive illustration
The outcomes are hanging: Indonesians overwhelmingly assist the descriptive illustration of sophistication pursuits, which is noteworthy on condition that (as talked about above) Indonesia’s nationwide legislature consists of virtually fully higher class people whose occupational backgrounds are more and more concentrated within the non-public sector.
The concept that solely ladies can actually signify ladies additionally acquired sturdy assist. When it got here to spiritual minorities the responses have been extra divided, suggesting an ambivalence inside Indonesia’s majority Muslim inhabitants towards to the concept non-Muslims’ wants are finest met via political illustration.
As a comply with up, we then requested whether or not respondents thought the variety of legislators from these teams wanted to be elevated. The outcomes once more present very sturdy assist for growing the variety of decrease to center class folks in nationwide parliament, with over 80% in favour, and for growing ladies’s illustration too. There may be far much less assist for growing the non-Muslim presence in parliament.
Determine 4: Growing descriptive illustration
Our survey suggets many Indonesians share a need for a extra egalitarian parliament, the place decrease class residents and ladies are higher represented. Indonesians additionally imagine legislators ought to before everything be creating insurance policies and laws that serve the welfare of the inhabitants extra broadly (though patronage-centred understandings of illustration even have broad assist).
This public atttitude contrasts with Indonesia’s present actuality. Most legislators are rich, and lots of come to politics after a profession in enterprise, and use their political affect to additional their monetary pursuits. The rising value of politics means such candidates have an electoral benefit, as do incumbents who can use authorities packages and parliamentary funds to assist their campaigns. Regardless of potential underlying demand for change, there are few alternatives for this ‘provide aspect’ constraint to shift within the close to future: limitations to entry for unbiased candidates are excessive, and political events proceed to hunt well-resourced candidates who can underwrite their very own campaigns.
And whereas our survey finds assist for ladies’s illustration, feminine candidates are much less more likely to have the financial assets wanted to compete, and so they face appreciable headway from patriarchal attitudes holding that males are higher suited to public management roles. Nonetheless, this unmet public need for a unique type of legislature—one that features a wider spectrum of individuals and pursuits—is important and probably extra pervasive than both students or politicians have understood.