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1997 Indonesian legislative election

  (Redirected from Indonesian legislative election, 1997)

Legislative elections were held in Indonesia on 29 May 1997. There were actually three elections in one as voters were electing members of two levels of regional government as well as the House of Representatives. This was to be the last election of President Suharto's New Order regime, which collapsed a year later. Like the preceding New Order elections, it was won outright by the Golkar organization.

Indonesian legislative election, 1997

← 1992 29 May 1997 1999 →

425 (of 500) seats of the People's Representative Council
  First party Second party Third party
  Harmoko, The DPR-RI Stance on the Reform Process and the Resignation of President Soeharto, p39.jpg Ismail Hassan Metareum, The DPR-RI Stance on the Reform Process and the Resignation of President Soeharto, p39.jpg Soerjadi PDI 1987.jpg
Leader Harmoko Ismail Hassan Metareum Suryadi
Party Golkar PPP PDI
Last election 282 seats, 68.10% 62 seats, 17.01% 56 seats, 14.89%
Seats won 325 89 11
Seat change Increase43 Increase27 Decrease45
Popular vote 84,187,907 25,340,028 3,463,225
Percentage 74.51% 22.43% 3.06%
Swing Increase6.41% Increase5.42% Decrease11.83%

MPR & DPR leadership before election


New MPR & DPR leadership




Indonesian law at the time only allowed three organisations to participate in elections - the United Development Party (PPP), the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) and Golkar (functional group), an organisation which started off as a confederation of NGOs, and was officially not a party.

Election campaignEdit

The 27-day campaign ran from April 27 to May 23, with a quiet period of five days before polling day.

Media coverageEdit

The mass media tended to favour "a particular election participant",[1] for example Suara Karya newspaper only reported on Golkar campaign activities, and did not mention the PDI or PPP campaigns at all. On the other hand, the daily Media Indonesia was rather more balanced, but overall, Golkar campaign speakers received far more coverage.

In the later stages of the campaign, media coverage was dominated by reports of campaign violence. Suara Karya in particular reported three times as many violent incidents involving the PPP than any other paper.

Campaign issuesEdit

Not a single election participant started the campaign by announcing or focusing on its main themes, therefore the public really had no idea what they were offering. The campaign was dominated by "sloganistic issues" with very little substance. For example, all three election participants promised to address problems such as poverty and corruption, but none actually said how they would do this. In fact, Kristiadi says that the only difference between this campaign and the previous one in 1992 was that there was less use of verses from the Koran to try and attract support.[2]

The "Mega-Bintang Phenomenon"Edit

Following the government's forced replacement of PDI leader Megawati Sukarnoputri by Soeryadi at the party's 1996 Medan conference, the PDI tried hard to put forward an independent image. Meanwhile, many of Megawati's supporters gravitated towards the PPP, in a phenomenon known as the "Mega-Bintang" coalition. Bintang means "star", and was the symbol of the PPP. This was an entirely unexpected occurrence. Megawati was seen as representing secular politics, while the PPP was an Islamic party, but the two found common ground as a coalition of the oppressed.

PPP officials explicitly rejected the term "coalition", and said the increase in their support was a symbol of the revival of their party. However, posters and symbols carried by Megawati supporters made it clear what the "Mega-Bintang" coalition really meant. The government then banned the use of "Mega-Bintang" posters and symbols, saying it was contrary to election regulation. This ban was used by the security forces as an excuse to remove all such symbols.

Campaign participantsEdit

According to Kristiadi, there were three types of people who took part in the campaigns:[3]

  • People ordered to do so or who were after money, or who wanted to see the entertainers laid on at rallies
  • People who voluntarily attended because they were proud to support their organisation
  • Young people releasing energy

More than 200 people died during the course of the campaign, mostly in road traffic accidents and through being trapped in burning buildings during the disturbances in Banjarmasin.

Intimidation and other irregularitiesEdit

There were reports in the press of intimidation and “buying support”, for example pressure on teachers to urge older high school students (the minimum voting age was 18) to vote for "a particular election participant" [4] with a 'reward' for compliance and 'punishment' for failure. There were also other reports of known PPP and PDI supporters being intimidated.

There were also disputes between employees, who wanted voters to cast their ballots at their places of work, and local government officials, who wanted them to vote near their homes, as each wanted to ensure they met their responsibility to achieve their quota of Golkar votes.


While Golkar won 282 seats in the MPR, the PDI lost 45 (winning 56 seats) while the PPP, thanks in part to the pro-Megawati PDI wing support, won 62 seats, an increase of 27.

Votes for each election participant in each province were as follows:[5]

Province PPP Golkar PDI
Votes % Votes % Votes %
Aceh 668,802 31.86% 1,360,379 64.81% 69,993 3.33%
North Sumatra 742,958 12.84% 4,648,928 80.33% 395,583 6.84%
West Sumatra 188,168 7.74% 2,214,666 91.15% 26,958 1.11%
Riau 313,013 13.77% 1,879,977 82.70% 80,232 3.53%
Jambi 76,964 5.90% 1,208,090 92.58% 19,889 1.52%
South Sumatra 446,792 11.30% 3,361,164 84.98% 147,131 3.72%
Bengkulu 30,344 3.85% 747,140 94.77% 10,903 1.38%
Lampung 177,244 4.82% 3,424,949 93.21% 72,156 1.96%
Jakarta 2,239,418 32.87% 4,451,503 65.34% 121,931 1.79%
West Java 6,003,471 25.99% 16,709,824 72.34% 386,938 1.68%
Central Java 4,961,280 29.01% 11,671,667 68.26% 466,840 2.73%
Yogyakarta 602,739 34.22% 1,102,256 62.58% 56,487 3.21%
East Java 6,791,399 33.89% 12,620,089 62.97% 630,708 3.15%
Bali 60,779 3.28% 1,727,810 93.21% 65,044 3.51%
West Nusa Tenggara 268,022 14.56% 1,484,697 80.66% 87,913 4.78%
East Nusa Tenggara 29,667 1.51% 1,867,339 94.94% 69,880 3.55%
East Timor 7,188 1.82% 334,718 84.70% 53,296 13.49%
West Kalimantan 281,992 15.14% 1,298,746 69.72% 282,035 15.14%
Central Kalimantan 95,736 9.83% 843,065 86.60% 34,717 3.57%
South Kalimantan 406,719 25.15% 1,164,085 71.98% 46,471 2.87%
East Kalimantan 272,961 23.66% 807,678 70.02% 72,902 6.32%
North Sulawesi 42,018 2.44% 1,648,075 95.90% 28,521 1.66%
Central Sulawesi 114,748 10.39% 937,551 84.89% 52,175 4.72%
South Sulawesi 322,308 7.34% 4,023,937 91.63% 45,377 1.03%
Southeast Sulawesi 17,498 2.07% 822,163 97.22% 6,033 0.71%
Maluku 140,604 12.98% 888,948 82.07% 53,637 4.95%
Irian Jaya 38,196 3.62% 938,463 88.86% 79,476 7.53%
TOTALS 25,340,028 22.43% 84,187,907 74.51% 3,463,225 3.06%
Ballot number Election participant Votes % Seats
2 Golkar (Golongan Karya) 84,187,907 74.51 325
1 United Development Party (Partai Persatuan Pembangunan, PPP) 25,340,028 22.43 89
3 Indonesian Democratic Party (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia, PDI) 3,463,225 3.06 11
Total 112,991,150 100% 425
Source: Komisi Pemilihan Umum (General Election Commission)

Election of presidentEdit

In March 1998, President Suharto was unanimously elected by the People's Consultative Assembly along with new Vice President B. J. Habibie. Due to the 1997–98 financial crisis, Suharto was forced to resign in May, just two months into his seventh five-year term.



  • Kristiadi, J; Legowo, T.A.; Harjanto, Budi N.T. (1997). Pemilihan Umum 1997: Perkiraan, Harapan dan Evaluasi (The 1997 General Election: Thoughts, Hopes and Evaluation) (in Indonesian). Jakarta, Indonesia: Centre for Strategic and International Studies. ISBN 979-8026-64-0.
  • Schwarz, Adam (1999). A Nation in Waiting : Indonesia's Search for Stability. Allen and Unwin. ISBN 9781865081793.