Regional autonomy and patterns of democracy in Indonesia
Baswedan, Anies Rasyid, 1969-
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Literature on democracy frequently found that there is a strong relationship between decentralized government and democracy. Increased in political participation, government transparency, government responsiveness, and the dynamic in regional politics were found to take place as a result of a decentralized government. This research departs from one overarching question: does decentralization of political and administrative power promote democracy? Using the case of Indonesia, this study observed the effect of decentralizing policy to learn about the relationships between regional autonomy and democracy. It investigates how a uniform design of regional autonomy is being implemented in a unitary state that comprises more than 5,000 islands and whose population is one of the most diverse in the world. This research looked closely at the patterns and variations of democracy that emerged across 177 sample districts (39.5% of all districts) in Indonesia. This research, using the framework of institutionalism, reviews the effects of institutional design on the behavior of political actors at the regional level. It contributes to the literature by developing and testing a model on the relationship between decentralized government and democracy. The model was developed through previous work done by others regarding the effect of decentralized government on political participation, regional government responsiveness and transparency. This study finds that the implementation of regional autonomy does not directly increase local political participation. Regional autonomy shifted the focus of attention from national to regional political issues. It also finds that the degree of government responsiveness is influenced by the size of population. The larger the district's population, the government tends to be more responsive. Regarding transparency, this study finds that the degree of government transparency is correlated with the degree of public awareness of local politics. Specific to the case of Indonesia, the decentralized government does not influence electoral behavior at the regional level. This finding indicates that non-policy related variables have a stronger effect on the behavior of the electorates.