Election workers wearing traditional Minang wedding costumes at a polling station in Pariaman City, West Sumatra, during the 2019 Indonesian general election

Elections in Indonesia have taken place since 1955 to elect a legislature. At a national level, Indonesian people did not elect a head of state – the president – until 2004. Since then, the president is elected for a five-year term, as are the 575-member People's Representative Council (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat, DPR), the 136-seat Regional Representative Council (Dewan Perwakilan Daerah), in addition to provincial and municipal legislative councils.[1]

Members of the People's Representative Council are elected by proportional representation from multi-candidate constituencies. Currently, there are 77 constituencies in Indonesia, and each returns 3-10 Members of Parliament based on population. Under Indonesia's multi-party system, no one party has yet been able to secure an outright majority in a democratic election; parties have needed to work together in coalition governments. Members of the Regional Representative Council are elected by single non-transferable vote. There, Indonesia's 34 provinces treated as constituencies and, regardless of the size and population, every province return four senators.

Starting from the 2015 unified local elections, Indonesia started to elect governors and mayors simultaneously on the same date.

The voting age in Indonesia is 17, but anyone who has an ID card (KTP) can vote since persons under 17 who are or were married can get a KTP.[2] Elections are conducted by the General Elections Commission (KPU) and supervised by the General Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu); their activities were overseen by Elections Organizer Honorary Council (DKPP).

Electoral principles

Indonesian election conduct abides by six principles of direct, general, free, confidential, honest, and fair. Those principles are abbreviated and commonly propagated as "Luber-jurdil". The first four principles of "Luber" are adopted by the New Order regime from the 1971 election. After the 1998 reform and the following political liberalisation, two extra principles of "Jurdil" are adopted for the first time in the 1999 election.[3]

The voters vote on the election ballot by punching a hole using a provided nail. For legislative ballots, punching can be done in one of the party logo, ballot number, or candidates' name. For presidential, gubernatorial, mayoral, and regent elections, punching can be done in one of the candidates' photograph, ballot number, or name. Ticking method was previously used started in 2009 elections, but it was reverted in 2014 elections.


Elections were first promised for January 1946 by vice-president Hatta on 3 November 1945, a promise repeated later the same month by Prime Minister Sjahrir and senior minister Amir Sjarifuddin in response to criticism of the cabinet for being non-democratic. They were never held, partly because the Indonesian National Revolution was still ongoing and the Republic only controlled Java, Sumatra and a few other areas, and partly because the socialist government was extremely unpopular due to its policy of negotiating with the Dutch colonial power, and would be expected to do very badly in any election. However, there were regional elections in Bali, Solo and Kediri.[4][5]

Early elections (1955)

Main articles: 1955 Indonesian legislative election and Indonesian Constituent Assembly election, 1955

Indonesia's first general election elected members of the DPR and the Constitutional Assembly of Indonesia (Konstituante). The election was organised by the government of Prime Minister Ali Sastroamidjojo. Sastroamidjojo himself declined to stand for election, and Burhanuddin Harahap became Prime Minister.

The election occurred in two stages:

The five largest parties in the election were the National Party of Indonesia (PNI), Council of Indonesian Muslim Associations Party (Masyumi), Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), and Indonesian Islamic Union Party (PSII).

Elections under the New Order (1971–1997)

Most elections during the New Order were conducted by General Elections Institution (LPU), as of 1997 election, it was led by Minister of Home Affairs.

First election (1971)

Main article: 1971 Indonesian legislative election

The first election after the establishment of Suharto's New Order took place on 5 July 1971. Ten political parties participated.

The five largest political parties were a newly-participate "functional group" Golkar, Nahdlatul Ulama, Muslim Party of Indonesia (Parmusi), PNI and PSII.

Further elections (1977–1997)

A map showing the parties/organisations with the largest vote share per province in Indonesia's elections from 1977 to 2019
President Suharto places his ballot into the ballot box at TPS 002, Gondangdia Village, Menteng, Central Jakarta, 9 June 1992.

Five further legislative elections were held under Suharto administration. In accordance with the legislation, these were contested by two parties: United Development Party (PPP) and Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI); as well as Golkar. All elections in this period were won by Golkar.

On every March after the legislative election, the MPR would hold General Sessions (Sidang Umum MPR) in which included the election of President and soon after, the Vice President; as mandated by the original constitution. On all occasions, Suharto was the only person ever stood as a presidential candidate, thus enabling him to be elected unanimously. On vice-presidential elections, all candidates endorsed by Golkar (and the military faction) went on to be elected unanimously.

To ensure that Golkar always won more than 60% of the popular vote, the New Order regime used a number of tactics. These included:

Summary of 1977–1997 election results
Year United Development Party
(Partai Persatuan Pembangunan, PPP)
The Functional Groups
(Golongan Karya, Golkar)
Indonesian Democratic Party
(Partai Demokrasi Indonesia, PDI)
Votes Seats Votes Seats Votes Seats
1977 18,743,491 (29.29%) 99 (27.50%) 39,750,096 (62.11%) 232 (64.44%) 5,504,757 (8.60%) 29 (8.06%)
1982 20,871,880 (27.78%) 94 (26.11%) 48,334,724 (64.34%) 242 (67.22%) 5,919,702 (7.88%) 24 (6.67%)
1987 13,701,428 (15.97%) 61 (15.25%) 62,783,680 (73.17%) 299 (74.75%) 9,324,708 (10.87%) 40 (10.00%)
1992 16,624,647 (17.00%) 62 (15.50%) 66,599,331 (68.10%) 282 (70.50%) 14,565,556 (14.89%) 56 (14.00%)
1997 25,341,028 (22.43%) 89 (20.94%) 84,187,907 (74.51%) 325 (76.47%) 3,463,226 (3.07%) 11 (2.59%)
Source: General Election Commission[10]
Seats up for election: 360 (1977 and 1982), 400 (1987 and 1992), 425 (1997)

Election in the reform era (1999–present)

The 1999 election was the first election held after the collapse of the New Order. It was held on 7 June 1999 under the government of B.J. Habibie. Forty-eight political parties participated.

The six largest parties which passed the electoral threshold of 2% were the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P), the reformed Golkar Party, PPP, National Awakening Party (PKB), National Mandate Party (PAN), and Crescent Star Party (PBB).

Under the constitution, the new president was elected by members of the all-house MPR in a joint sitting. This meant that although PDI-P won the largest share of the popular vote, the new President was not its nominee, Megawati Sukarnoputri, but Abdurrahman Wahid of PKB. Megawati then became vice president.

During its 2002 annual session, the MPR added 14 amendments to the 1945 Constitution. Included in these amendments were measures to reorganise the Indonesian legislature. Beginning in 2004, the MPR would be composed of the existing DPR and a new Regional Representative Council (DPD). Because all the seats in the MPR would be directly elected, this called for the removal of the military from the legislature, whose 38 seats for the 1999–2004 period were all appointed.[11] This change and an amendment for direct election of the President and Vice-President were significant steps for Indonesia on the road towards full democracy.[12]

The 2004 legislative election was held on 5 April 2004. A total of 24 parties contested the election. Golkar Party won the largest share of the vote, at 21.6%, followed by PDI-P, PKB, PPP and newly formed Democratic Party. 17 parties won legislative seats.

In 2005, Indonesia also began holding direct elections for governors, mayors and regents. Prior to this, local executives had been elected by a vote of the local legislative body. The first region to do so was Kutai Kartanegara, which held a regency election on 1 June 2005.[13]

2009 legislative and presidential elections

Main articles: 2009 Indonesian legislative election and Indonesian presidential election, 2009

Legislative elections for the DPD and the DPR were held in Indonesia on 9 April 2009. The presidential election was held on 8 July, with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono winning enough of the vote to make the run-off election unnecessary.[14]

2014 legislative and presidential elections

Main articles: 2014 Indonesian legislative election and Indonesian presidential election, 2014

Legislative elections for the DPD and the DPR were held in Indonesia on 9 April 2014.[15] The presidential election was held on 9 July 2014, with Joko Widodo, then the Governor of Jakarta winning the election against Prabowo Subianto, a former general in Indonesia.[16]

2019 legislative and presidential elections

Main article: 2019 Indonesian general election

In 2019, for the first time, legislative and presidential elections were held on the same day. Joko Widodo, running with Ma’ruf Amin as his vice-presidential candidate, again defeated Prabowo Subianto, running with Sandiaga Uno, winning 55.4% of the vote.[17][18] In the legislative vote, PDI-P came first, with 19.3% of the vote, followed by Prabowo's Gerindra Party with 12.6% .[19]

Voter registration

Voter registration and turnout, 1955–1997
Year Registered voters Voter turnout %
1955 43,104,464 37,875,299 87.86
1971 58,558,776 54,699,509 93.41
1977 70,378,750 63,998,344 90.93
1982 82,134,195 75,126,306 91.47
1987 93,965,953 85,869,816 91.38
1992 107,605,697 97,789,534 90.88
1997 124,740,987 112,991,160 90.58
Source: Ariwibowo et al. 1997, p. 23
Presidential Elections Voter registration and turnout, 2004-2019
Year Registered voters Voter turnout %
2004,[20] First Round 155,048,803 118,656,868 78.23
2004,[20] Second Round 155,048,803 114,257,054 75.24
2009[21][22] 176,367,056 121,504,481 68.89
2014[23] 193,944,150 134,953,967 69.58
2019[24] 192,866,254 158,012,506 81.93


Vote buying is common in Indonesia. In Indonesian, vote-buying is often known as politik uang ('money politics'). According to a survey of 440 respondents by Institut Riset Indonesia in January–March 2020 in areas where local elections were to be held in 2020, 60% of respondents said that they would allow their vote to be bought. Reasons for accepting vote buying include considering it as a gift that can not be rejected (35–46%), compensation for not working on the election day (25–30%), and supporting daily needs (9–16%).[25] One of the common tactics of vote-buying is the so-called serangan fajar ('dawn attack'), which involves the giving of money a day or two before the election day. The amount ranges from Rp30,000 to Rp50,000.[26] According to Burhanuddin Muhtadi in his book Kuasa Uang; Politik Uang dalam Pemilu Pasca-Orde Baru (The Power of Money; Money Politics in the Post-New Order Elections), vote-buying in Indonesia is done by individual candidates instead of political parties because of intense intra-party competition. This situation forces candidates to rely on their own networks instead of on the party machine.[27]

In 2020, simultaneous local elections across the country were held in a single day amid the COVID-19 pandemic which stirred some controversy among the Indonesian public.[28][29]

See also


  1. ^ Prokurat, Sergiusz (2014), Indonesian parliamentary and presidential elections in 2014. The electoral process and economic challenges (PDF), Józefów: Socio-economic relations between Europe and Asia in the 21st century”, pp. 197–210, ISBN 978-83-62753-53-6, archived from the original (PDF) on 22 September 2016, retrieved 28 July 2016
  2. ^ Asy'ari, Hakim; Syarifah, Nur (24 October 2022). "Peraturan Komisi Pemilihan Umum Nomor 7 Tahun 2022 tentang Penyusunan Daftar Pemilih dalam Penyelenggaraan Pemilihan Umum dan Sistem Informasi Data Pemilih" [General Election Commission Regulations Number 7 of 2022 about Preparation of Voter List In The Organization of Elections General and Voter Data Information System] (PDF). Jakarta: General Elections Commission. p. 4−11.
  3. ^ Nita Hidayati (2019). "Sejarah Singkat Perjalanan Pemilihan Umum di Indonesia" (in Indonesian). Beritabaik.id.
  4. ^ Anderson (1972) pp 178 & 197
  5. ^ Cribb (1996) p2
  6. ^ a b Liddle (1978) p126
  7. ^ a b c d e Evans (2003) pp. 20-21
  8. ^ Liddle (1978) p128
  9. ^ TVRI (1999)
  10. ^ Pemilu 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, dan 1997 (in Indonesian), Komisi Pemilihan Umum, retrieved 8 June 2009
  11. ^ Langit, Richel (16 August 2002), Indonesia's military: Business as usual, Asia Times Online, archived from the original on 19 August 2002, retrieved 9 June 2009((citation)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  12. ^ Aglionby, John (11 August 2002), "Indonesia takes a giant step down the road to democracy", The Guardian, retrieved 10 June 2009
  13. ^ Erb, Maribeth; Sulistiyanto, Priyambudi (2009). Deepening Democracy in Indonesia?: Direct Elections for Local Leaders (Pilkada). Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. p. 232. ISBN 9789812308412.
  14. ^ Indonesia's president re-elected: No wonder why with SBY, The Economist, 9 July 2009, retrieved 11 July 2009
  15. ^ KPU (General Elections Commission) (8 June 2012). "Launching Tahapan Pemilu, KPU Tetapkan Pemungutan Suara: 9 April 2014 (Launching of the Election Stages, KPU Sets Voting Day: 9 April 2014)" (in Indonesian). KPU Media Center. Archived from the original on 8 October 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  16. ^ Joe Cochrane (22 July 2014). "Joko Widodo, Populist Governor, Is Named Winner in Indonesian Presidential Vote". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 29 July 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  17. ^ Editorial Board (18 April 2019). "Congratulations, Indonesia!". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  18. ^ Ghina Ghaliya (21 May 2019). "Congratulations, Indonesia!". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  19. ^ Beritasatu Team; Telly Nathalia (21 May 2019). "Jokowi Wins Re-Election, PDI-P Wins Most Seats". The Jakarta Globe. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  20. ^ a b Ananta, Aris; Nurfidya Arifin, Evi; Suryadinata, Leo (2005). Emerging Democracy in Indonesia. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asia Studies. ISBN 981-230-323-5.
  21. ^ "BAB V: Hasil Pemilu (Part V: Election Results)" (PDF) (in Indonesian). Komisi Pemilihan Umum. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 June 2011. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  22. ^ "Jumlah pemilih presiden 176 juta ('Number of voters for presidential election 176 million')". Koran Tempo (in Indonesian). 1 June 2009. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  23. ^ "Rekapitulasi Pilpres 2014 KPU" (PDF). Komisi Pemilihan Umum. 2014. Archived (PDF) from the original on 23 July 2014. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  24. ^ Sindo, Koran (2017). "Jumlah Pemilih Pemilu 2019 Mencapai 196,5 Juta Orang". Sindonews. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  25. ^ Saubani, Andri (3 July 2020). "Potensi Maraknya Praktik Politik Uang Pilkada Kala Pandemi". Republika Online (in Indonesian). Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  26. ^ Wasono, Hari Tri (8 April 2014). "Saat Serangan Fajar Justru Dinanti Warga". Tempo (in Indonesian). Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  27. ^ Marzuqi, Abdillah (20 June 2020). "Di Balik Serangan Fajar". Media Indonesia (in Indonesian). Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  28. ^ Dharmastuti, Hestiana. "Pro-Kontra Pilkada Serentak 2020 Tetap Digelar di Tengah Wabah". detiknews (in Indonesian). Jakarta: detikcom. Retrieved 15 November 2020.
  29. ^ Hariyanti, Dini (4 October 2020). "Pro Kontra Pilkada di Tengah Optimistis Presiden Terhadap Pandemi - Nasional Katadata.co.id". katadata.co.id (in Indonesian). Retrieved 15 November 2020.