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Cablegate: Parliamentary Reform Law Step Forward For

VZCZCXRO6723
OO RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHJA #1372/01 2320445
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 200445Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3101
INFO RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JAKARTA 001372

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, EAP/RSP, H
NSC FOR J. BADER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM ID CVIS
SUBJECT: PARLIAMENTARY REFORM LAW STEP FORWARD FOR
INDONESIA'S MATURING DEMOCRACY

REF: JAKARTA 1308 AND PREVIOUS

1. (SBU) Indonesia's Parliament (DPR) recently passed a
parliamentary reform law which is a significant step forward
for Indonesia's maturing democracy. This new law was
intended to shift power from the executive branch to the
legislative by increasing Parliament's autonomy over its
budget and personnel, creating a better balance of government
power. In an unintended twist, one provision of the law also
tilts the balance of power toward President Yudhoyono's
Partai Demokrat (PD) by allowing the biggest DPR party (now
PD) to select the DPR Speaker. Some analysts have expressed
concern that Partai Demokrat now controls the most powerful
positions in both the executive and legislative branches. In
response, President Yudhoyono has reassured the public that
"checks and balances" are integral to Indonesia's democracy.
USG programs have been instrumental in supporting these
parliamentary reform efforts.

SEPARATION OF POWERS

2. (SBU) Under the previous system, the executive branch
controlled much of the legislative branch's daily operations.
The executive branch, for example, controlled the
legislative branch's budget and administration, which meant
staff working for legislative members were actually executive
branch employees. The new law allows the legislature to
create and administer its own contract employee system and
control its own budget, allowing for a clearer separation of
powers between branches.

CHECKS AND BALANCES

3. (SBU) In defining the arenas of power for the executive
and legislative branches, one contentious issue was whether
the DPR has the power to call the President to personally
appear for questioning. When the DPR has called President
Yudhoyono in the past to appear before them over issues such
as an increase in oil prices and Indonesia's support of UN
sanctions against Iran, he sent a minister in his stead.
Now, however, it seems that this law could require the
President to appear in person if there is evidence of his
"wrongdoing." Although it is still unclear how this will be
interpreted and implemented, this represents an increase in
the power of the legislature to criticize executive branch
decisions.

BIGGEST PARTY GETS TO CHOOSE THE SPEAKER

4. (SBU) Although the new law has successfully
distributed government power more equally in some ways, in an
unexpected twist the President's party, PD, became more
powerful. The law's most controversial provision allows the
largest party in the DPR--currently President Yudhoyono's
Partai Demokrat (PD), with 27% of DPR seats--to automatically
pluck the plum Speaker position. (Previously the DPR chose
its Speaker by a majority vote.) This legislative victory
effectively secured PD's takeover from Golkar, the largest
party in the 2004 DPR. The Speaker's position will be even
more powerful in the 2009 DPR, because it will now also chair
the House Affairs Committee (BURT), which oversees the DPR
budget and the Secretariat General. However, Deputy Speaker
posts of both the DPR and the People's Consultative Assembly
(MPR) will go to the next four largest parties (Golkar,
PDI-P, PKS, and PAN).

5. (SBU) Thanks to the new law, PD now controls the most
powerful positions in both the executive and legislative
branches of government. Since PD falls short of a majority
in the DPR, the Speaker could play a key role in helping the
president get legislation passed. The Speaker could also
help reduce the DPR's tendency to mount critical inquiries
into government actions. Analysts have expressed concern
about this and point out that this is reason enough to hope
that traditional opposition party PDI-P and its current ally,
Golkar, stay in opposition to provide a healthier democracy.
President Yudhoyono addressed these concerns in recent
speeches by emphasizing that "equal weight must be given to
executive, judicial and legislative branches" and that "power
must not go unchecked...it corrupts absolutely." In a move
that indicates Yudhoyono means what he says, it seems that PD
may not run its own candidate for MPR speaker, preferring
instead to support a candidate from PDI-P or another party.
(Note: Unlike the DPR Speaker selection, the law did not
change how MPR members choose the MPR Speaker, which is still
by majority vote.)

JAKARTA 00001372 002 OF 002

USG FUNDING PLAYS KEY ROLE IN REFORM

6. (SBU) U.S. Government programs have played a key role
in helping the DPR create and pass this comprehensive piece
of reform legislation. United States Agency for
International Development (USAID) has supported Indonesia's
long-term parliamentary reform efforts through its Democratic
Reform Support Program (DRSP). DRSP worked closely with the
DPR to provide advice and input which the Indonesians
requested, being careful to remain neutral regarding
political issues and the balance of power among parties.
DRSP has also helped organize House Affairs Committee (BURT)
study visits to the U.S. Congress with the assistance of the
U.S. Mission in Jakarta. The U.S. House Democracy Assistance
Commission (HDAC) was integral to this parliamentary reform
effort, engaging parliamentarians during their visits to
Indonesia in 2008 and 2009 and welcoming Indonesian
parliamentarians who visited Congress.
HUME

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