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New Research - Made by committee and consensus: parties and policy
in the Indonesian parliament | Stephen Sherlock

New research on the way political parties operate in the Indonesian Parliament has been published by CDI Director Dr Stephen Sherlock, in the journal South East Asia Research, from the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS) in London. The article was part of a special edition of the journal discussing aspects of the political party system in Indonesia. Other articles in the collection focused specifically on four of the major parties in the country: Democrat Party, Golkar, Indonesian Democratic Party – Struggle (PDIP) and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS). Dr Sherlock’s paper analysed the party system from a broader perspective, dealing with general characteristics in the way in which all parties represented in the parliament develop their positions on legislative and policy questions.

The paper’s main objective was to challenge some common perceptions about how relations between central party organisations and their representatives in parliamentary caucuses are conducted. The paper argues that assumptions about the workings of parties in parliament are often based on scanty evidence and are heavily influenced by hostile attitudes to the parliament that are common in the media and NGO community. Contrary to assertions that central party leaders exercise strict discipline over their members in parliament, coordination between party and caucus (fraksi) is weak, inconsistent and ad hoc. The policy and lawmaking role usually played by political parties in most parliaments has, in the Indonesian case, largely been supplanted by the parliament’s committee system. The paper concludes that this situation is facilitated by the eschewing of public votes through the process of decision-making by “consensus” (musyawarah untuk mencapai mufakat), an un-transparent and unaccountable practice that is actually a vote by caucus leaders, which excludes ordinary members and limits public input into the legislative process.

Click on these links to acces this journal article, an interview with the author and more:

Stephen Sherlock, 'Made by committee and consensus: parties and policy in the Indonesian parliament', South East Asia Research, Volume 20, Number 4, December 2012 , pp. 551-568
Committee chaos: how the Indonesian parliament really works - Video interview with Stephen Sherlock
CDI Research Activities
CDI & Indonesia




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The Australian National University

School of International, Political & Strategic Studies

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, 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. The Centre is based in the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra.

© Centre for Democratic Institutions, The Australian National University. Please direct all comments to cdi@anu.edu.au. Last modified 28 August, 2014 CRICOSProvider Number: 00120C Web Counter



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