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Cablegate: New Indonesian Parliament Faces High Expectations

VZCZCXRO0105
OO RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHJA #1653/01 2751245
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 021245Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3463
INFO RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JAKARTA 001653

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, EAP/RSP
NSC FOR D. WALTON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM ID
SUBJECT: NEW INDONESIAN PARLIAMENT FACES HIGH EXPECTATIONS

REF: JAKARTA 1597 AND PREVIOUS

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: With President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono's (SBY) Democratic Party (PD) and its coalition
partners firmly in control of the newly inaugurated
parliament, President Yudhoyono has the consensus government
he's been seeking. Given the President's solid majority,
many analysts expect that he will be able to easily achieve
his legislative goals. Some political pundits have expressed
concerns that the new legislature may be too compliant, while
others argue that this parliament will not be a rubber stamp
for SBY. 75 percent of the incoming MPs are first time
members, who are younger and better educated than their
predecessors. Although the devastating September 30
earthquake in Sumatra dampened the October 1 inauguration
ceremonies, there was nonetheless a sense of high
expectations as the new legislators stepped in to improve the
image and performance of Parliament. END SUMMARY.

NEW LEGISLATURE INAUGURATED

2. (U) On October 1 and 2, the new members of the Indonesian
legislature were sworn into office for a five year term of
office. The legislature is divided into three distinct
bodies: the People's Representative Assembly (DPR), the
Regional Representatives Assembly (DPD), and the People's
Consultative Assembly (MPR). The MPR is comprised of the DPR
and the DPD. The DPR has 560 members (10 more than in 2004
due to the creation of new regions) and is the more powerful
of the two houses since its members draft and pass laws in
conjunction with the executive branch. The DPD has 132
members, four from each of the 33 provinces, and does not
create or vote on legislation. It provides consultations on
legislation dealing with regional issues.

FRESH FACES: A BRAND NEW PARLIAMENT

3. (U) About 75 percent of the DPR are first time members.
It is expected that this DPR will be more responsive to
constituents' concerns, because for the first time voters
directly elected their representatives. (Note: In the past
political parties were on the ballot rather than candidates.)
According to the Indonesian Parliamentary Watchdog Group
(Formappi), the members are younger and more educated than
the 2004 DPR--91 percent of the members are
university-educated as compared to 80 percent in 2004).
There are more women -- 17 percent, up from 11 percent in
2004. The majority of the members are business people (about
46 percent), academics, and professionals. A number of
parties ran actors and models, with no political or
legislative experience, as candidates.

4. (SBU) The most crucial difference between this Parliament
and its predecessor is that due to the Democratic Party's
dominance, this DPR is expected to be more supportive of the
government's policies. In the outgoing parliament the
Democratic Party controlled only 10 percent of the seats
compared to nearly 30 percent now (168 of the 560 seats).
With its coalition partners, the four largest
Islamic-oriented parties, PD controls 56 percent of the
seats. Speculation abounds about whether the current
opposition parties, Golkar and PDI-P, will join the ruling
coalition. If they do, the two small unaligned parties will
be virtually powerless. With no effective opposition, some
analysts are concerned that there may be a movement back to
the authoritarian rule of the Suharto regime. On the other
hand, given the make up of the incoming MPs, most agree that
this Parliament will not be a rubber stamp for SBY's
proposals.

5. (SBU) The outgoing 2004 DPR, the second democratically
elected Parliament in Indonesian history, limped to a finish
September 30. The press and NGOs have criticized the DPR for
only reaching 25 percent of its targeted legislative output
and for passing a spate of half-baked laws in poorly attended
sessions in its final days. Many previous laws were struck
down by the Constitutional Court and observers expect some of
the new last-minute laws to face the same fate. Allegations
of misdoing also plagued the 2004 DPR. At a September 30
farewell dinner for the outgoing DPR members, a participant
noted with relief that "at least we are finishing without any
scandals-- no pending investigations by the corruption
commission." During the previous legislative session, nine

JAKARTA 00001653 002 OF 002


DPR members were convicted of graft and several others were
investigated. In 2009, Transparency International Indonesia
ranked the DPR as the most corrupt institution in Indonesia.
Indo Barometer, a polling agency, indicated that only 51
percent of the respondents were satisfied with the DPR but 90
percent were happy with President Yudhoyono.

NEW HOUSE FACES HIGH EXPECTATIONS

7. (SBU) Expectations are high that the new, well educated
legislators will improve the image and performance of the DPR
as an institution. It remains to be seen however, whether
the new members will fall victim to the culture of money
politics. Many of incoming members paid dearly for their
campaigns and, for some, the temptation to recoup those
expenses may be tempting. Political leadership and
structures in the legislature will be determined in the
coming weeks. Many are now waiting for the new slate of
ministers to be announced as parties trade political support
for leadership positions.
OSIUS

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