Indonesia: a presidential system with checks and balances



Publication Details

N. Hosen, 'Indonesia: a presidential system with checks and balances' in T. Roder and R. Grote(ed), Constitutionalism in Islamic Countries: Between Upheaval and Continuity (2012) 461-472.


Prior to the reform era the Constitution of Indonesia of 1945 favored the dominance of the executive branch: as its superiority over the legislative branch was written clearly into the constitution. However, the governing political institutions have drastically changed, through the amendments to the constitution that were enacted during the period 1999-2002.

Constitutional reform in Indonesia responded to popular demands following more than thirty years of authoritarian rule by President Soeharto who had come to power by ousting his predecessor Soekarno through a coup in 1967 and had tightly controlled all levers of power before he was finally forced to resign by massive public protests in 1998. They included calls for a less powerful presidency, a multiparty system, a more powerfull parliament, and a reduction in, or eradication of, parliamentary seats for the military in the House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat, DPR). It could be argued that reform of the 1945 Constitution has been one of the most important aspects of the transition to democracy in Indonesia, which began in 1998. Despite the weaknesses in the 1945 Constitution as a basis for democracy, it was explicitly or implicitly accepted by most major political forces as the framework for the transition in Indonesia that began in 1998. Subsequently, however, the most important political parties cam,e to believe that the constitution had to be amended to address weaknesses in the country's political structure.

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