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Consensus and Democracy in Indonesia: Musyawarah-Mufakat Revisited

Discussion Papers

No.308

September 2011

ABSTRACT

This paper analyzes customary practices of consensus decision making, called musyawarah‐mufakat, as a basis of democratic stability in Indonesia. Musyawarah and mufakat (deliberation and consensus) are a traditional decision‐making rule in Indonesia which has often been observed in village meetings. This paper argues that this traditional decision‐making rule is still employed even in a modernized and democratized Indonesia, not only at rural assemblies but in the national parliament as well. Furthermore, this consensus way of decision making provides an institutional basis for democratic stability by giving every parliamentary player, whether big or small, an equal opportunity to express his/her interests. On the other hand, this system of musyawarah‐mufakat decreases political efficiency in the sense that it takes a long time to deliberate drafted laws in the parliament.

Keywords: Indonesia, democracy, political culture, legislature

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