People's Representative Council

People's Representative Council
People's Representative Council
Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat
Coat of arms or logo
Type Lower house of People's Consultative Assembly
Term limits 1 term (5 years)
Speaker Marzuki Alie
Members 560
DPR-RI 2009-2014.svg
Political groups
Committees 11
Last election 9 April 2009
Meeting place
Legislative Complex

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The People's Representative Council (Indonesian: Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat, DPR), sometimes referred to as the House of Representatives, is one of two elected national legislative assemblies in Indonesia.

Together with the Regional Representatives Council (Dewan Perwakilan Daerah/DPD), a second chamber with limited powers, it makes up a third chamber, the People's Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat). Currently there are 560 members, following the 2009 elections, all elected.[1][2]

It is considered among the most corrupt institutions in Indonesia[3]




Dutch East Indies Governor-General Johan Paul van Limburg Stirum opens the first meeting of the Volksraad in 1918.

In 1915, members of the Indonesian nationalist organization Budi Utomo and others toured the Netherlands to argue for the establishment of a legislature for the Dutch East Indies, and in December 1916 a bill was passed to establish a Volksraad (People's Council).[4] It met for the first time in 1918. Ten of its nineteen members elected by local councils were Indonesians, as were five of the nineteen appointed members. However, it had only advisory powers, although the governor-general had to consult it on financial matters. The body grew in size to 60 members, half of who were elected by a total of 2,228 people.[5]

In 1925, the Volksraad gained some legislative powers. It had to agree to the budget and internal legislation, and could sponsor laws of its own. However, it had no power to remove the governor general and remained nothing more than a gesture.[5]

In 1940, after the German invasion of the Netherlands, and the fleeing of the Dutch government to exile in London, there was a motion calling for an inquiry into turning it into a quasi-legislature, but this was withdrawn after a negative response from the government.[6] In July 1941, the Volksraad passed a motion calling for the creation of a militia made up of up to 6,000 Indonesians[7] In February 1942, the Japanese invasion began, and in May 1942 the Dutch formally dissolved the Volksraad. It was replaced by a council made up of heads of departments.[8]

Japanese Occupation

The Japanese invaded Indonesia in 1942. By 1943 the tide had turned against them, and in order to encourage support for the war effort, the Japanese appointed Indonesian advisors (sanyo) to the administration and appointed Sukarno leader of a new Central Advisory Board (Chuo Sani-kai) in Jakarta.[7] In March 1945, the Japanese established the Committee for Preparatory Work for Indonesian Independence (Indonesian: Badan Penyelidik Usaha Persiapan Kemerdekaan Indonesia) or BPUPKI, chaired by Radjiman Wediodiningrat, with Sukarno, Hatta and Thamrin among its members. This body drew up a constitution for an independent Indonesia over several weeks of meetings. At a session of the Committee on 1 June 1945, Sukarno laid down the principles of Pancasila by which an Indonesia would be governed.[9][10]

On 7 August, the day after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the Preparatory Committee for Indonesian Independence (Indonesian: Panitia Persiapan Kemerdekaan Indonesia) or PPKI was established. Sukarno was chairman, and Hatta vice-chairman. The two proclaimed the Independence of Indonesia on 17 August.[11] On 18 August, the PPKI accepted the constitution drawn up by the BPUPKI as the provisional Constitution of Indonesia and decided that during a six-month transition period, the new republic would be governed according to the constitution by a president, assisted by a National Committee, who would establish the two chamber legislature mandated by the constitution. The upper chamber, the People's Consultative Assembly would then have six months to draw up a new constitution, leaving open the possibility that this would be an entirely new document free of the influence of the situation prevailing during the Second World War.[10] The PPKI also named Sukarno as president and Hatta vice-president.[12]


The historic meeting of the KNIP in Malang, East Java to decide Indonesia's response to the Linggadjati Agreement

The Central Indonesian National Committee (Indonesian: Komite Nasional Indonesia Pusat) or KNIP was a body appointed to assist the president of the newly independent Indonesia, Sukarno, on 29 August 1945. It was originally planned to have a purely advisory function, but on 18 October, Vice-president Hatta issued Decree X transferring the powers the Constitution conferred on the People's Consultative Assembly and People's Representative Council from the president to the KNIP. The day-to-day tasks of the KNIP would be carried out by a Working Committee.[13][14]

During the War of Independence, the entire KNIP was unable to meet regularly. Therefore, the KNIP acted as the upper house, the People's Consultative Assembly in the constitution, meeting only infrequently to discuss fundamental and pressing national issues, while the Working Committee acted as the day-to-day parliament.[15]

The Federal Legislature

In January 1948, the Dutch authorities established the Provisional Federal Council for Indonesia (Voorlopige Federale Raad voor Indonesia) comprising Lieutenant Governor Hubertus Johannes van Mook and eight Indonesians chosen by him to represent the views of Indonesia. Two months later, the council made up of heads of departments that the Dutch had set up to replace the pre-war Volksraad officially became the Provisional Federal Government (Voolopige Federale Regering). This body invited heads of the states making up the United States of Indonesia to send delegates to the Federal Conference in Bandung in May 1948. That month, leaders of states and other areas joined together to establish the Federal Consultative Assembly (Bijeenkomst voor Federaal Overleg or BFO) to represent the federal regions.[16]

Following the transfer of sovereignty to the United States of Indonesia (RIS), in December 1949, the state adopted a bicameral system, with a 150-member People's Representative Council and a senate with two representatives from each of the 16 component areas of the RIS. Initially People's Representative Council had 50 representatives from the Republic of Indonesia and 100 from the 15 component parts of the RIS. The plan was for elections within a year. The KNIP met for the last time on 15 December 1949 to agree to the Republic of Indonesia joining the RIS.[17]

This People's Representative Council met for the first time on 15 February 1950, but was soon overtaken by events as the federal system collapsed as the individual states dissolved themselves into the unitary Republic of Indonesia.[17]

Liberal Democracy

The original building in central Jakarta where Indonesia's legislature, the People's Representative Council (DPR) met from 1950

Given that the Republic of Indonesia did not want the RIS parliament to become the legislature of the unitary republic, in May 1950, Hatta and representatives from the federal states agreed to establish a new parliament comprising the 150 members of the RIS parliament, 46 members of the KNIP Working Committee, 13 from the Republic of Indonesia Supreme Advisory council and 32 RIS senators, making 241 members. On 17 August 1950 the RIS was formally dissolved and the unitary Republic of Indonesia came into being.

The provisional People's Representative Council met for the first time on 16 August 1950. By then there had been minor changes to the agreed composition as three RIS senators had refused to take their seats and 21 representatives from the State of Pasundan were replaced by 19 members appointed by the Republic. Of the 236 members, only 204 took their oaths of office on 20 August, and only 170 voted in the election of the speaker, which was narrowly won by Sartono of the Indonesian National Party (PNI). Masyumi was the largest parliamentary party with 49 seats. The PNI had 36 seats and no other party had more than 17.[18]

In 1952, the DPR demanded a reorganization of the Ministry of Defense and the dismissal of the Army leadership in response to military opposition to troop reductions. This led to the '17 October 1952' incident with large-scale demonstrations at the presidential palace by soldiers and civilians demanding the DPR be dissolved. The crowd dispersed after Sukarno addressed it.[19]

Despite the election bill being introduced in 1951, it was not passed until 1953 and elections were held in 1955.[20] The results surprised everybody. The Indonesian Socialist Party did worse than expected, as did Masyumi, while the Indonesian Communist party did better than predicted. Following the election, the PNI and Masyumi had 57 seats each, the Nahdatul Ulama had 45 and the PKI 39. There were know 28 parties in parliament, compared with 20 before the election. Only 63 of the 257 pre-election members of parliament still had seats, but there were 15 women members compared with eight before. The new parliament met on 26 March 1956.

The Indonesian parliament in session in the 1950s

Over the next few years, public dissatisfaction with the political parties grew. In 1957, Sukarno announced his concept of a national unity cabinet and a National Council made up of functional groups to advise the cabinet. This Council was established in May 1957. On 5 July 1959, Sukarno issued a decree, which as well as reviving the provisional 1945 Constitution, dissolved parliament.[21]

The new DPR took office on 22 July 1959. It accepted the president's decree by acclamation and aid it was ready to work as stipulated by the 1945 Constitution. However in March 1960 it unexpectedly rejected the government's budget. Sukarno then dissolved it as it was seen as no longer fulfilling the president's hopes that it would work with him in the spirit of the 1945 Constitution, Guided Democracy and the Political manifesto (Manipol, the political ideology of the time). The DPR session ended on 24 June.[22][23]

Guided Democracy

Sukarno then used this difference of opinion with the legislature as justification for the establishment of a People's Representative Council of Mutual Assistance (Indonesian: Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Gotong Royong, DPR–GR). The membership was no longer based on the results of the 1955 election, but was determined by the president, who could appoint and dismiss members at will. Political opponents were sidelined, and some who opposed the establishment of the DPR-GR refused to take their seats. As Masyumi and the Indonesian Socialist Party did not agree with Sukarno, they were given no seats, meaning there was no longer a parliamentary opposition. A number of representatives from various functional groups including the military were also appointed. As of mid-1962, there were 281 members; 130 from 10 political parties, 150 from 20 functional groups and 1 representative from West Irian.

The responsibilities and duties of the parliament were dramatically curtailed as it was reduced th helping the government implement its policies. In 1960 it produced only 9 laws, compared with 87 in 1958 and 29 in 1959. It became little more than a rubber stamp for Sukarno's policies. For example it passed a law allowing volunteers to be sent to participate in the 'Confrontation' with Malaysia.[24][25]

New Order

The Building in Jakarta where Indonesia's People's Representative Council holds its plenary sessions

Following the coup attempt of the 30 September Movement in 1965, which was officially blamed on the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), the DPR-GR was purged of PKI members – 57 communist members were suspended.[26] On 14 November parliament resumed without the PKI representatives, including deputy speaker M. H. Lukman. In 1969, the government passed an election law that set the membership of the DPR at 360 elected and 100 appointed members. The number of representatives from the military increased to 75. Elections were finally held in 1971, having been delayed to allow preparations to ensure a victory for the government's Golkar organization.[27][28][29]

Following the election, the words 'Gotong Royong were removed and the body became the Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat again. In 1973 the remaining political parties were reduced to two, the United Development Party and the Indonesian Democratic Party . For the remainder of the New Order, Golkar won absolute majorities at every elections, while the parliament did not produce a single law on its own initiative, its role being reduced to passing laws proposed by the government.[27][30][31]

Reform Era

In May 1998, President Suharto stepped down and the following year saw Indonesia's first free elections since 1955. Of the 500 seats, 462 were elected, while 38 seats were reserved for the military/police faction. In the 2004 elections, all 550 seats were elected. In the 2009 elections the number of seats was increased to 560. There are now no appointed military officers in the legislature.[32][33]


The DPR has three main functions, legislative, budgeting and oversight. It draws up and passes laws of its own as well discussing and approving government regulations in lieu of law and proposals from the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) related to regional issues. Together with the president, it produces the annual budget, taking into consideration the views of the DPD. It also has the right to question the president and other government officials.[34][35]

The President of Indonesia does not hold the power to relinquish the People's Representative Council.


The People's Representative Council has 560 members resulting from the 2009 legislative election. There are representatives from 9 political parties grouped into 9 factions.[36]

Factions in the 2009-2014 People's Representative Council
Faction Seats
Democratic Party Faction 148
Golkar Party Faction 106
Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle Faction 94
Prosperous Justice Party Faction 57
National Mandate Party Faction 46
United Development Party Faction 38
National Awakening Party Faction 28
Gerindra Faction 26
Hanura Faction 17
Total Seats 560



The DPR is chaired by a speaker and four deputy speakers elected from the membership. The current speaker is Marzuki Alie.


There are a total of eleven commissions whose job it is to discuss matters related to their areas of responsibility and formulate bills for submission to the plenary session of the Council. The commissions and areas of responsibility are:

  • Commission I :Defense, foreign affairs and information
  • Commission II: Domestic governance, regional autonomy, state apparatus and agrarian affairs
  • Commission III: Legal affairs and laws, human rights and security
  • Commission IV: Agriculture, plantations, maritime affairs, fisheries and food
  • Commission V: Transport, telecommunications, public works, public housing, village development and disadvantaged areas
  • Commission VI: Trade, industry, investment, cooperatives, small and medium businesses and state-owned companies
  • Commission VII: Energy, natural mineral resources, research and technology, the environment
  • Commission VIII: Religion, social affairs, the empowerment of women
  • Commission IX: Demographic affairs, health, manpower and transmigration
  • Commission X: Education, youth affairs, sports, tourism, art and culture
  • Commission XI: Finances, national development planning, banking and non-bank financial institutions

The commissions can meet with the president or ministers and can hold meetings to listen to public opinion.[37]

List of Speakers

  • Kasman Singodimedjo (1945–1950) [38]
  • Sartono (1950–1960)
  • KH. Zainul Arifin (1960–1963)
  • Arudji Kartawinata (1963–1966)
  • KH. Achmad Sjaichu(1966–1972)
  • KH. Idham Chalid (1972–1977)
  • Adam Malik (1977–1978) [39]
  • Lt. Gen. (ret.) Daryatmo (1978–1982)
  • Lt. Gen. (ret.) Amirmachmud (1982–1987)
  • Lt. Gen. (ret.) Kharis Suhud (1987–1992)
  • Lt. Gen. (ret.) Wahono (1992–1997)
  • Harmoko (1997–1999)
  • Akbar Tanjung (1999–2004)
  • Agung Laksono (2004–2009)
  • Marzuki Alie (2009–present)

See also

Commission I


  • Cribb, Robert (2001) Parlemen Indonesia 1945-1959 (Indonesian Parliaments 1945-1959) in Panduan Parlelem Indonesia (Indonesian Parliamentary Guide), Yayasan API, Jakarta, ISBN 979-96532-1-5
  • Daniel Dhaidae & H. Witdarmono (Eds) (2000) Wajah Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Republic Indonesia Pemilihan Umum 1999 (Faces of the Republic of Indonesia People's Representative Council 1999 General Election) Harian Kompas, Jakarta, ISBN 979-9251-43-5
  • Denny Indrayana (2008) Indonesian Constitutional Reform 1999-2002: An Evaluation of Constitution-Making in Transition, Kompas Book Publishing, Jakarta ISBN 978-979-709-394-5
  • Evans, Kevin Raymond, (2003) The History of Political Parties & General Elections in Indonesia, Arise Consultancies, Jakarta, ISBN 979-97445-0-4
  • Friend, Theodore (2003) Indonesian Destinies The Belknap Press of Harvard university Press, ISBN 0-974-01137-6
  • Hughes, John (2002), The End of Sukarno – A Coup that Misfired: A Purge that Ran Wild, Archipelago Press, ISBN 981-4068-65-9
  • Ikrar Nusa Bhakti (2001) Parlemen Dalam Konteks Sejarah 1959-1998 (Parliament in the Historical Context 1959-1998) in Militer dan Parlemen di Indonesia (The Military and Indonesian Parliament in Indonesia) in Panduan Parlelem Indonesia (Indonesian Parliamentary Guide), Yayasan API, Jakarta, ISBN 979-96532-1-5
  • Kahin, George McTurnan (1952) Nationalism and Revolution in Indonesia Cornell University Press, ISBN 0-8014-9108-8
  • Poltak Partogi Nainggolan (2001) Parlemen Dalam Konteks Sejarah 1959-1998 (Parliament in the Historical Context 1959-1998) in Panduan Parlelem Indonesia (Indonesian Parliamentary Guide), Yayasan API, Jakarta, ISBN 979-96532-1-5
  • Ricklefs (1982), A History of Modern Indonesia, Macmillan Southeast Asian reprint, ISBN 0-333-24380-3
  • Schwarz, Adam (1994), A Nation in Waiting: Indonesia in the 1990s, Allen & Unwin, ISBN 86373-635-2


  1. ^ Denny Indrayana (2008), p369
  2. ^ Law No. 20/2008 on Elections
  3. ^ Taufiqurrahman, M. (October 12, 2004). "House, parties 'most corrupt'". The Jakarta Post (Jakarta). 
  4. ^ Ricklefs (1982) p164
  5. ^ a b Ricklefs (1982) p153
  6. ^ Ricklefs (1982) p183
  7. ^ a b Ricklefs (1982) p184
  8. ^ Cribb (2001) p282
  9. ^ Ricklefs (1982) p197
  10. ^ a b Cribb (2001) p272
  11. ^ Ricklefs (1982) pp. 197-198
  12. ^ Kahin (1952) p138
  13. ^ Cribb (2001) p276
  14. ^ Kahin (1952) pp. 139-140
  15. ^ Cribb (2001) pp. 280 – 281
  16. ^ Cribb (2001) pp. 282 – 284
  17. ^ a b Cribb (2001) p284
  18. ^ Cribb (2001) pp. 285-286
  19. ^ Ricklefs (1982) p233
  20. ^ Ricklefs (1982) p234
  21. ^ Cribb (2001) pp. 288-297
  22. ^ Poltak Partogi Nainggolan (2001) p 301
  23. ^ Ricklefs (1982) p256
  24. ^ Poltak Partogi Nainggolan (2001) pp. 301-303
  25. ^ Dept of Foreign Affairs (1962), Indonesia 1962, Jakarta, p. 9, No ISBN
  26. ^ Hughes (2002) p149
  27. ^ a b Schwarz (1994) p 32
  28. ^ Poltak Partogi Nainggolan (2001) pp. 304-303
  29. ^ Ricklefs (1982) pp. 276-277
  30. ^ Daniel Dhaidae & H. Witdarmono (2000) p. xix
  31. ^ Evans (2003) pp. 22
  32. ^ Friend (2003) p405
  33. ^ Ikrar Nusa Bhakti (2001) p. 205
  34. ^ DPR website - Authority (Indonesian)
  35. ^ DPR website – Rights and Obligations (Indonesian)
  36. ^ DPR website – Factions (Indonesian)
  37. ^ DPR website - Components(Indonesian)
  38. ^ Position known as Chairman of the KNIP
  39. ^ Resigned because of election to the Indonesian Vice Presidency

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