Indonesia is a republic with a presidential system. The country comprises 33 provinces, two of which have a special status, namely the capital region Jakarta and the ancient sultanate of Yogyakarta. Since 2004, the president and vice-president have been elected by direct universal suffrage for a five-year term.
Indonesia’s Constitution dates back to 1945. In 2001, the provinces Papua and Aceh were granted Statutes of Autonomy. Regarding Aceh, a 2005 peace agreement between the Indonesian government and local rebel movement GAM introduced the „Law on Governing Aceh“ (LoGA).
With the forced resignation of Soeharto (May 1998) in the wake of the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis a process of democratic transformation set in that continues to this day. Notable achievements include a newly independent central bank, reform of the banking sector, freedom of the press, and the establishment of separate high commands for the military and police (since 1999). Furthermore, decentralisation is redefining the relationship between the central government and the provinces. The establishment of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in 2002 and the Constitutional Court in 2003 have proven vital in the ongoing democratisation process.
Indonesia’s parliament (DPR) comprises 560 delegates. The most recent elections (April 9th 2009) saw 38 national parties – and six local ones in Aceh – compete against each other. The “Partai Demokrat” of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono won a decisive 20% majority, followed by the former Soeharto party “Golkar” with roughly 14%. The “PDI-P” of ex-president Megawati Soekarnoputri, daughter of Indonesia’s founder and first president Soekarno, came in third with equally about 14% of the vote. The religious Islamic parties remained below their expectations, with the strongest among them (“PKS”) winning a mere 8% share.
The presidential elections of July 8th 2009 confirmed the incumbent Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his new choice for a Vice-President, Boediono. With 61% of the vote the President prevailed already in the first ballot over his former deputy Jusuf Kalla (Golkar) and Megawati Soekarnoputri (PDI-P). The President and the Vice-president were inaugurated on October 20th 2009. The new government was sworn in two days later, and draws on seasoned experts in economic matters while leaving several other important portfolios to Golkar as well as various Islamic parties.
Indonesia’s 33 provinces are represented in the Regional Representative Council (DPD) founded in 2004. Irrespective of its size, each province may send as many as four directly elected delegates to the DPD, which serves a controlling and consultative function in matters relating to provincial autonomy. The People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) comprises the People’s Representative Council (DPR, 560 MPs) and the regional chamber (DPD, 132 MPs). Since 2004, the mandate of MPR encompasses constitutional issues and the inauguration and deposition of the Republic’s president and vice-president.
Indonesia has the world’s largest population of Muslims, yet it is not an Islamic state. Freedom of religion is written in the constitution (but is limited to six religions), while one of the country’s 5 state principles (Pancasila) stated the “belief in the one and only God.”
Since its foundation in 1967, ASEAN has constituted a milestone of Indonesian foreign policy. The country generally maintains very good relations with the other members of ASEAN, the ASEAN Secretariat is located in Jakarta. The ASEAN Charter, which came into force in December 2008, conferred legal entity upon the organisation. It also marked an important step towards deeper integration in the traditionally strong economic realm as well as the establishment of a socio-cultural and a security community. In 2011 Indonesia held the chairmanship of ASEAN.
Security and the fight against terrorism play prominent roles in Indonesia’s as well as ASEAN’s external relations. The “ASEAN Regional Forum” (ARF) constitutes an important forum for security and political dialogue with 15 other countries from Europe, North America, Asia and the Pacific region. The "Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation" (APEC) deals mainly with economic matters.
Indonesia strives for a stronger presence on the world stage and was a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council from 2007 to 2008. Around 850 Indonesian soldiers participate in the UN’s Mission in Lebanon and roughly 180 are stationed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since May 2011 Indonesia is a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council for a three-years period.
As a G-20 country, one of Indonesia’s foreign policy priorities is the intensification of political and economic relations with the region’s heavyweights China, Japan and India.
With the beginning of 2010 significant tariff reductions on many goods under the Free Trade Agreement between ASEAN and China (ACFTA or CAFTA) came into force, which led to a certain resistance within some industrial sectors in Indonesia fearing the Chinese competition.
The relationship with Timor-Leste, which gained independence from Indonesia in 2002, is characterised by reconciliation and good neighbourly ties.
The EU is one of Indonesia’s most important trading partners and investors. On November 9th 2009, Indonesia and the EU signed a comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA).