VI-5. “Examining the Process of Creating the New Village Law in Indonesia” (H28 FY2016)

  • Project Leader:Hasegawa Takuya (University of Tsukuba, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Outline of Research

Indonesia’s village law enacted in 2014 has drastically increased the amount of funds allocated to villages, and has caused a change in the character of village governance. It has further accelerated the decentralization of power, and possibly reduces the benefits of vested interests in Jakarta. This research project traces the process of creating this new law, and tries to find out why the central government and the National Congress chose to approve it.


In the process of creating the new village law, the Indonesian Village Head Association (APDESI) placed effective pressure on the central government by continually orchestrating large-scale demonstrations. Meanwhile, it consulted with academics and NGO activists based in Yogyakarta in order to refine its arguments to persuade the National Congress. Answering these voices from villages, some congress members took the initiative to persuade other members to pass the law. In this research project, I will interview the actors involved in the process of creating the new village law and identify the relevant incentives and strategies.

Many leading scholars in the field of Indonesian politics argue that the political-business elites closely tied to the Suharto regime have maintained their strategic political positions. They stress that the process of designing institutional changes has been totally under control of these vested interests and, as a consequence, these changes have been made merely to benefit these elites. Although the new village law was approved by an institution that was thoroughly penetrated by vested interests, it could reduce the benefits flowing to those vested interests. This research project will describe how and why the elite in Jakarta could not harness the voices for decentralizing power. The output of this research will challenge arguments that stress persistent elite dominance and provide a different perspective on Indonesian democracy.


A village office in a resource-rich region (Tanjung Pauh Village, Kuantan Singingi District, Riau Province).

A village head is briefing the village annual development plan to the community members. (Merbau Village, Pelalawan District, Riau Province)