INDONESIA IN 1999

Democracy Restored

By : R. William Liddle

Asian Survey, 40:1, pp. 32-42. ISSN: 0004-4687
(c) 2000 by The Regents of the University of California/Society.
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(Part 1)

For more than 200 million Indonesians, the most important Story of 1999 was the near completion of the transition to democraey after four decades of authoritarian rule under former Presidents Sukamo and Soeharto. A democratic general election for Parliament was held in June, followed in October by the election of a new president and vice-president for the 1999 - 2004 term by. the People's Consultative Assembty; a kind of super-Parliament charged constitutionally with that responsibility. The transition was marred only by the presence of unelected members, particularly representatives of the armed forces, in the partially: appointed Assembly.

For more than 800,000 East Timorese; the .most important story of the year was their liberation from Indonesian rule. In a U.N.-supervised referendum, held nearly a quarter century after the invasion of the former Portuguese coIony by Indonesian troops, the East Timorese overwhelmingly chose independence. By agreement with Portugal, Indones´a, and East Timorese independence leaders, the territory is now under ┘.N. administration for an indefinite period that is expected to last several years.

The economy, more than a year after the financial collapse of 1997 - 98, began to show modest signs of recovery, buf without renewed investment or improvement in exports, which according to most experts are the real keys to growth, International relations were dominated by the East Timor crisis until the inauguration of the new government in October.

The Parliamentary Election

On June 7, 1999, for the first time since 1955, Indonesians held a democratic election. Forty-eight Parties competed, with 21 winning at least one of the 462 contested seats in Parliament. (There were an additional 38 appointed armed forces delegates in the 500-member Parliament.) Simultaneous elections were held for legislatures in 26 provinces and more than 300 districts and municipalities. East Timor, at that time still the 27th. province, did not participate. Ninety percent of registered voters turned out for the three-level elections.1

At the national level, the five most popular parties were PDI-P (Partei Demokrasi Indonesia-Perjuangan, Indonesien Democracy Party-Struggle), which won 34% of the vote and 153 seats in Parliament; Golkar (Golongan Karya, Functional Groups), with 22% of the vote and 120 seats; PKB (Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa, National Awakening Party), 12% and 51 seats; PPP (Partai Persatuan Pembangunan, Development Unity Party), 10% and 58 seats; and PAN- (Partai Amanat Nasional, National Message Party), 7% and 34 seats.2

R. William Liddle is Professor, Department of Political Science, Ohio State University, Colombos.


1. Calculated from data an actual voters in the Jakarta daily Kompas, July 27, 1999, p. 1, and on registered voters compiled by the Komisi Pemilihan Umum (National Election Commission), on the World Wide Web at .

2. Numbers of seats do not precisely reflect percentages of votes because less densely populated electoral districts in the Outer Islands are overrepresented compared to populous Java and Bali. For example, PPP won fewer votes but more seats than PKB because its votes viere widely dispersed while PKB's votes were concentrated in East and Central Java.


Part 2




(c) 2000 by The Regents of the University of California/Society. All Rights Reserved