After period of authoritarian ruler Suharto in 1998, Indonesia has been having peaceful electoral transitions. Active and organized civil society has also helped Indonesia adhere to democratic expectations and norms. During 2014 Presidential Elections, civil society organizations (CSOs) in Indonesia played a vital role in improving the overall quality of elections. Thousands of volunteers were recruited as independent observers across the country and have reported extensive findings (as well as inspired lots of tweets and Facebook posts about vote buying). This is even more important given that, for the first time since 1999, there were no officially accredited international observers. Further, Indonesia’s CSOs have driven innovation in voter information as well as community action through voter education. More importantly, the CSOs also made politicians play by the rules, keep their promises and remain accountable to voters in the periods between elections.
CSOs that played active roles during the elections included Perludem, the People’s Voter Education Network (JPPR), Independent Election Observer Committee (KIPP). In addition, there were also other organizations which focused on sectoral issues such as counter-corruption (Indonesian Corruption Watch, Transparency International Indonesia), environmental management (Walhi, Jatam, Sawit Watch, ICEL, Kiara), budget transparency (Fitra), public services (Ecosoc Rights, Yapika), legal reform (PSHK, the Legal Aid Institute network), women’s empowerment (Indonesian Women’s Coalition, Women’s Solidarity), and disability rights (SIGAB, PPUA Penca). By working together, they have performed a significant role in three predominant ways:
- Ensuring the constitutional rights of voters are protected by laws and regulations, including that eligible voters can vote easily and without barriers, especially for those with disabilities,
- Improving the knowledge and critical thinking of the electorate through awareness campaigns,
- Increasing community participation in election monitoring to minimize fraud and vote buying, as well as to reduce intimidation and violence.
Apart from established CSOs, other independent civil society groups, such as academics, artists, street sweepers, public transport drivers, and celebrities to call for clean elections and non-corrupted politicians.
Bruce Gilley, Civil Society, Democracy, and Elections, IIP Digital, Jan 25 2010, http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/publication/2010/01/20100126152113mlenuhret0.7919886.html#axzz4HYmGh9RH.
Lili Hasanuddie, After a Lively Election, What’s Next for Indonesia’s Mobilized Civil Society?, the Asia Foundation, Aug 13, 2014, https://asiafoundation.org/resources/pdfs/IndonesiaElections.pdf.
Tito Ambyo, Civil Society’s Voice Spoken Lougest in Indonesian’s Election, The Guardian, Jul 10, 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/10/civil-societys-voice-spoke-loudest-in-indonesias-election.
Link : Perludem official website
Link : Ayo Vote website – Website for voter education, news, videos, participatory tools, etc. (Indonesian)
Link : Indonesia’s 2.0 Elections Get Going (The Wall Street Journal: 2014) – Independent groups have set up websites to share election information and news about different candidates, including videos, charts, and other visual data aimed at helping voters understand more about the election process.
Link : National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) calls for an Indonesia that is Democratic, Peaceful and Free from Violence (2014)