The Movement of Decentralization Development in Indonesia

  • Inthida Chamnongnit Research Group on Local Affairs Administration, College of Local Administration, Khon Kaen University
Keywords: Decentralization development, movement of decentralization, Indonesia


This article is the study of decentralization in Indonesia after the declaration of independence. It aims 1) to examine decentralization development in Indonesia by discussing overall changes in 4 periods, and 2) to propose lessons to be learnt from decentralization in Indonesia. This study is a documentary research and the findings reveal that in the first period after the declaration of independence (1945 – 1959), there were arguments about the specific direction that the nation was taking. At the end of this first period, laws about decentralization were enacted which would have an effect on the subsequent second period designated as Guided Democracy (1959 – 1965). The enforcement of the decentralization laws periodically caused turmoil and unrest in many areas. Therefore, a state of emergency was declared and administration was altered from parliamentary democracy to semi-authoritarian rule. A number of laws were revoked, including the decentralization laws. The central government appointed their nominees to administer local government so that all authority was returned to Jakarta while Java was restored as the centre of power. The third period was named the New Order period ( 1965 – 1998) : orders relating to administration were provided in the same way as before and interfered with local government which continued to be controlled by the central government. Eventually, people started to claim their own rights at the end of this period during a time of economic crisis. The reform period (1998 – present) is the fourth period: following conflicts between citizens, substantial reform was requested. Meanwhile, some groups wanted Indonesia to change into a federal state. Initially, the administration mechanism of decentralization weakened local government especially in terms of budget allocation and local politicians could not set up their own parties. However, the regimen was altered from centralized to local government. In addition, a number of laws were enacted, including provisions for the direct election of people, reduction of the power of dismissing local leaders, degrading the power of local councils, solving financial problems, budget allocation to local areas, and anti-corruption. From the study, there are some observations that the decentralization laws and local administration organization of Indonesia were rapidly established through the opinions and brief participation of only a few people. A small group of people were responsible for the legal regulations from 1999 to 2004. Interestingly, there were no protests, opposition or chaos and such laws were publicly accepted. Key lessons that can be extracted from this study include: 1) the readiness for and needs of decentralization and local administration, 2) a good image to local administration, 3) acceptance of elections and laws, 4) the role of leaders, 5) decentralization, and 6) promoting local leaders to become national leaders.


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How to Cite
Chamnongnit, I. (2018). The Movement of Decentralization Development in Indonesia. Social Science Asia, 4(2), 61-75. Retrieved from
Research Article