Indonesian legislative election, 1987

Indonesian legislative election, 1987

Indonesia's fifth legislative election, and the fourth under the New Order regime, was held on April 23 1987. There were three participants; the two political parties and the "functional group" Golkar. Like all the New Order elections, it was an outright victory for Golkar.


In the elections of 1977 and 1982, the notionally Islamic United Development Party (PPP) had seen a steady increase in its share of the vote, despite the New Order government's restrictions on political activity. It managed to position itself as the party of the "little people". In 1994, with the agreement of the government, under the leadership of Abdurrahman Wahid, the Nahdatul Ulama (NU) left the PPP, which it had been forced to join under the 1973 fusion of the Islamic parties.Schwartz (1994) p172] Later that year, the government obliged all political parties to adopt the state philosophy Pancasila as their ideological basis. In 1985 the PPP was pressured to change the party symbol from the Kaaba, the building at the center of the al-Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, to the star from the official symbol for Pancasila. Liddle (1994) p94]

In 1987, the NU leadership declared that its members and supporters were "not obliged to vote for the PPP, and not forbidden to vote for Golkar". This had the effect of increasing the influence of the NU, which had been much diminished within the PPP. Liddle (1994) p95]

The campaign

The priority of Golkar was to secure a majority of the popular vote in the devoutly Islamic province of Aceh, the only province apart from Jakarta where it had failed to do so in 1982. Liddle (1994) p96] Evans (2003)] In order to achieve this, Golkar made use of two civil servants: the managing director of state oil company Pertamina and the head of the State Logistics agency (Bulog), to run its financial campaign. Local companies, much more heavily dependent on government contracts then in the past, were the biggest donors. However, the crucial factor for Golkar was the political leadership of Aceh governor Ibrahim Hasan, an economist who managed to unite the traditional and modern aspirations of the Acehnese people. He traveled around the province telling people that a Golkar victory would bring about material development without sacrificing traditional values. Liddle (1994) p97]

In the final days of the campaign, thousands of young supporters of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) paraded in Jakarta carrying portraits of former president Sukarno. In the their eyes, the anti-Western Sukarno was associated with the Indonesian National Party (PNI), one of the parties forced to fuse into the PDI in 1973, and was therefore a clear symbol of opposition to the pro-Western New Order. During the campaign, the PDI had tried to take a stand against corruption and economic inequality. Liddle (1994) p98]


As a result of the withdrawal of the NU, the PPP lost more than 40% of its 1982 vote, with Golkar seeing the most benefit.. The PPP vote fell in 24 or the 27 provinces. Liddle (1994) p92] The PDI share of the vote rose by 3%, with its share up by more than a third over 1982. Most of the increases came in western Java, and in Jakarta, the PDI's vote rose to 28.8% from 15.8% in 1982. With the conflicts with the PPP following the departure of the NU, voting for the PDI was the only way of registering a protest against the domination by the military-bureaucracy of the political system. Golkar, meanwhile, achieved its aim in Aceh, and for the first time won an absolute majority of the vote in Jakarta and every other province of Indonesia. This would be the case for every election until the 1998 collapse of the New Order.

The aftermath

After the election the next item on the political agenda was the election of the president and vice-president by the People's Consultative Assembly. The reelection of 66-year-old Suharto was a foregone conclusion given he appointed half the membership of the assembly as well as controlling the elected Golkar members and the unelected delegates from the Armed Forces. This added up to 80% of the membership. The only question was who would Suharto appoint as vice-president. Eventually the job went to Golkar chairman and State Secretary Sudharmono. In March 1988 the two men were formally elected for the 1988-1993 term. Liddle (1994) p99]



* Evans, Kevin Raymond (2003) "The History of Political Parties and general Elections in Indonesia" Arise Consultatncies, Jakarta ISBN 979-97445-0-4
* [ Komisi Pemilihan Umum (General Election Commission)] retrieved January 6, 2008
* Liddle, R. William (1994) "Pemilu-Pemilu Orde Baru (Elections of the New Order)", LP3ES, Jakarta ISBN 979-8015-88-9
* Schwartz, Adam (1994) "A Nation in Waiting: Indonesia in the 1990s", Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86373-635-2
* Sudibjo, M (Ed) (1995) "Pemilihan Umum 1992: Suatu Evaluasi (The 1992 General Election: An Evaluation)" Center for Strategic and International Studies, Jakarta. ISBN 979-8026-26-X

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