External voting provisions was included in the 1953 Election Law due to concern to preserve the voting rights of a large external population mostly resident abroad for a relatively short period. External voting was managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Indonesians who met the qualifications to vote but were overseas and living in a city where Indonesia had diplomatic representation could register to vote for the national legislative body at the relevant embassy. They were registered to vote for the electoral district in which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs headquarters was located—the province of Jakarta.
Overseas voting committees (PPLNs) were formed at each Indonesian diplomatic mission by the ambassador to manage electoral registration, voting and the counting of ballot papers. Similar arrangements continued under the 1969 Election Law, which governed the six Suharto-era ‘elections’ for the national People’s Representative Council (DPR) held between 1971 and 1997. The first post-Suharto era election, in 1999, also continued these arrangements, although PPLNs made up of party representatives now replaced the bureaucrats of the ministries of home affairs and foreign affairs of the Suharto era.
In 2014, around 2.25 million Indonesian citizens were registered as voters in 130 countries around the world. Most overseas voters were registered in Malaysia and Hong Kong, as both countries with large numbers of Indonesia expatriate workers. In 2009, only 22% of eligible overseas voters cast vote.
Inside the country, Indonesian voters vote for four different assemblies- at the regional, provincial and district/ city level, in addition to the Regional Representative Council (Dewan Perwakilan Daerah, DPD), Indonesia’s Senate. Overseas voters only voted for the most important assembly at the national level, the People’s Representatives Council (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat, DPR).
Although most Indonesians living overseas continue to hold a personal identity card (KTP) that ties them to their hometown, overseas voters don’t get to cast a vote in their hometown constituency. Instead, all votes that are cast at embassies and consulates around the world pour into the Jakarta II electorate (Daerah Pemilihan DKI Jakarta II), which includes the sub-electorates of Central Jakarta, South Jakarta and Overseas. In other words, the candidates that fill the seven DPR seats allocated to the Jakarta II electorate represent the roughly 2.2 million voters outside Indonesia as well as the 2.3 million Indonesians living in Central and South Jakarta. The almost even 50-50 split between urban Jakartans and expatriate Indonesians surely makes the Jakarta II electorate one of the country’s most diverse. And with its 4.5 million voters it is roughly twice as large as the average DPR electorate.
-, Voting from Abroad, The International IDEA, 2007, http://www.migration4development.org/sites/default/files/voting-from-abroad-the-international-idea-handbook-pdf.pdf.
Dominic Berger, Indonesia’s Overseas Vote: Time for Secession?, New Mandala, Mar 19, 2014, http://www.newmandala.org/indonesias-overseas-vote-time-for-secession/.