Jumat, 02 Juli 2010

Significance of Decentralization Framework in Constructing a Model of Democratic Developmental Regime at Local Level (Case of Bandung City Government/BCG)

In spite of the existing problems encountered, the development performance of Bandung City government in the era of wide autonomy has slightly improved. Moreover, the relationship between the government and the people is getting more egalitarian, indicated by enhancement of grass root participation in the development planning processes. For sure, such improvements are not solely caused by the implementation of new decentralization framework. Rather, there are many factors that reciprocally influence each other resulting in a certain degree of developmental performance.

Under such consideration, supporting Donors for decentralization in Indonesia appreciate for the government’s continued commitment to the spirit of decentralization and its frank acknowledgement of problems that inevitably arise in the promulgation of such a fundamental reorientation of the governance system. The donors also compliment the many regional governments, which have utilized opportunities generated by the new paradigm to develop innovative approaches towards good governance and the efficient and effective delivery of public services (Joint Working Group on Decentralization, 2003).

We can withdraw a rough conclusion then, that decentralization has been able to endorse the construction of democratic developmental local governance when it is accurately planned, well managed, effectively implemented and carefully monitored. In other words, decentralization should theoretically create a set of condition for the emergence of democratic and capable state (i.e. local governance).

The following part will analyze the process of building democratic developmental regime of Bandung City in the era of wide autonomy. The analysis will mainly be based on Leftwich’s conception. Furthermore, two variables will also be added, i.e. capacity building and systemic synchronization. These two variables are believed to be the determinant factors for any success or failure of decentralization in achieving development goals, i.e. democratic governance and prosperous society.

Construction of Democratic Developmental Regime in the Context of BCG

As Leftwich concludes (2000: 167), the developmental state (or developmental regime) is a state whose political and bureaucratic elites have generally achieved relative autonomy from socio-political forces in the society and have used this in order to promote a program of rapid economic growth with more or less rigor and ruthlessness. In other words, the developmental regime is typically driven by an urgent need to promote socio-economic development, and to win legitimacy by delivering steady improvement in the material and social well being of its citizens. He also proposes six major features of various developmental democratic states, i.e. a determined developmental elite; relative autonomy for the state apparatus; a competent and insulated economic bureaucracy; a weak and subordinated civil society; the capacity to manage effectively local and foreign economic interests; and a varying balance of repression, legitimacy and performance (p. 175-176).

In the context of Bandung City, it is true that the performance of socio-economic development was quite low some years before and after the implementation of decentralization framework. Seven development sectors examined in the earlier part have affirmed this statement. Without looking at other factors, it may lead to the construction of public opinion that Bandung City is representing a weak regime or weak state, as proposed by Migdal.[1] However, the low performance of local development was mainly a result of general decline in economic growth nationwide, but some socio-economic indicators were getting increase starting from 2000/2001. Additionally, the intimacy of vertical relationship between government officials and social groups was also becoming intensive. Under such situation, it can improperly be said that there is “a general lack of social discipline”, one attribute of soft state[2], in Bandung City.

Nevertheless, some features of soft state are clearly phenomenal. Financial inefficiency cases (not to say corruption[3]) occur occasionally, while legislative products often disserve local businessmen and hamper investment climate. In fact, developmental state requires relatively uncorrupt determined developmental elites as well as sound regulations. In this case, the growing public awareness and participation is trustworthy to reduce the incidence of corruption, unsound regulations, and collusion in many fields especially in the process of legal drafting.

Despite the fact that there are some cases of financial inefficiency, the commitment of new local regime of Bandung City to socio-economic development is quite promising. As elaborated in the previous part, Bandung City Government under the new Mayor has determined to renew its dedication in promoting socio-economic development of the region. Furthermore, local developmental elites have a relative autonomy, in which they have been able to achieve relative independence from the demanding clamor of special interest and that they can override these interests in the interest of local governance (local government and its multiple stakeholders). Utilizing Evan’s concept (Leftwich, 2000: 162), a harmonious relations between local elites (executive and legislative officials) and social / community groups in the process of development would generate s form of “embedded autonomy”.[4]

In Bandung City, such harmonious relations have been apparent little by little, where local autonomy is seen as effort of returning back the authorities of legal-and-political local communities (kesatuan masyarakat hukum) to arrange their household affairs independently. In this sense, the concept of “legal-and-political local communities” refers not only to local governments (districts/kabupaten and cities/kota), but substantially it should entail local business actors, NGOs, professional associations, as well as governmental units at the grass root level i.e. village government (kelurahan and/or desa), including two tiers of neighborhood association (rukun tangga and rukun warga).

This circumstance, if persistently maintained and improved, will become a strong foundation for achieving higher performance of local development. Until recently, unfortunately, autonomy and decentralization is largely perceived as a process of devolving functions and responsibilities and transferring resources from central to local government (with emphasis on district and city governments). Consequently, Law No. 22/1999 has frequently been considered as a regulation on “autonomy of local government units” rather than “autonomy of legal-and-political local communities”. Some phenomena disclosed in the previous part on field findings support this observation. Under such situation, pessimistic calculation takes place. Up to the third year of the implementation of wide-autonomy policy, many observers hesitate its efficacy in improving public welfare and public services.

That is why, developmental determination by the elite and embedded autonomy itself is not enough to accelerate development processes. Here, the other precondition for developmental state is required, i.e. the real power, authority and technical competence of local bureaucracy in shaping the fundamental thrusts of development policy. In this regard, capacity building is really a strategic option to leverage the power of bureaucracy and the competence of local apparatus. And providentially, Bandung City Government has engaged in regular programs of capacity building.

On the dimension of democratic state or democratic regime, Leftwich (2000: 173-174) defines democracy in its minimalist meaning to refer to a political system in which people, political parties and groups are free to pursue their interests according to peaceful, rule-based competition, negotiation and cooperation. In practice, this means free and regular election, plus peaceful succession where government change, low barriers to political participation, and the protection of civil and political liberties.

Concerning general election, since Indonesia is a unitary state, there is no general election in local level separated from national election. However, political parties have their own regional branches at province and district/city level. In the political arena, the branch offices have the same rights as those in central level. Therefore, even though local election is not known in Indonesian politics, but it does not lessen the process and the quality of democratic development in the region.

Unfortunately, the succession process of Bupati/Walikota (District/City Head) often produces political tension among factions in the parliament. It occurs particularly due to the fact that local bureaucracy is highly politicized and under the influence of legislative power. As revealed in the previous part, the process of succession has even escorted to practices of lobbying, bargaining, political barter, vote buying, and to some extent, corruption and collusion. The case of Bandung City also shows that prior to election of new mayor in October 2002, political situation in the city was becoming heated. In the framework of attaining a better local democracy, the existing system of Head of District/City election needs to be reviewed. In accordance with the change of presidential election system in the 2004, the election of Bupati/Walikota will also be modified, in which Bupati/Walikota will not be pointed by parliament members, but pointed directly by local constituents instead.

In terms of political participation of the city dwellers, there are no barriers for people to take active part directly or indirectly in the process of formulation and implementation of local development. Though there is a bit problem of incapability of local government officials to fully accommodate people’s aspiration and apply it into decision-making (benign neglect), but their willingness to create and provide a consultancy forum is reflecting the needs to realize the principle of good local governance.

From the above explanation it can be roughly implied that the vision to construct a democratic developmental regime in local level is really a long and complicated process. It becomes trickier since they must satisfy two sets of independent criteria to qualify as being both developmental and democratic. In addition, the transformation process (from less to more developmental, and from less to more democratic) can’t be achieved easily since in fact, there is no obvious classification of states/regime. In other words, the permutation of “developmental and democratic” is not “black and white”; it is a “gray area” instead. And the gradation of “gray” is very much varied among countries and regions.

In the case of Bandung City, it cannot be confidentially said that the model of democratic developmental regime has materialized. But the most important thing is that policy efforts, political will and commitment from all local elements, both government and community, are relatively on the right track. Therefore, the achievement of democratic developmental regime in the future will depend highly on the ability of local elites and social organizations / community groups to manage and maintain a harmonious tie among them, and always to renew their developmental commitment towards a better society and better local government.

Capacity Building as a Solution: Bridge from Democratic State to Developmental Democratic State

The above description implies that Law No. 22/1999 has successfully brought local government to a right path to be democratic. Even though it does not reach an ideal stage of democracy yet, but local citizens’ awareness to participate in the development process and local government’s acquiesce to be more transparent and accountable are much better than those under centralized regime of New Order. It can be judged that the era of “nominal democracy” has steadily been passed through.

Nevertheless, it can also be implied from the previous parts that acceleration of development process and performance are still far from satisfactory. In other words, there is a slight gap between the rapidity of democratic movement and the velocity of development progress. In such circumstance, the role of capacity building is very essential to bridge and minimize the gap.

In the National Framework for Capacity Building to Support Decentralization” published by MOHA, Bappenas and GTZ, (2003: 11), capacity building refers to the need for adjusting policies and regulations, institutional reforms, modification of work procedures and mechanism of coordination, improvement of human resources, skills and qualifications, change of the value system and attitudes, so that the needs of regional autonomy as a new approach towards governance, administration, and participatory mechanisms of development can be fulfilled in order to meet the demands for a more democratic system. This process includes three levels of intervention, i.e. system level, institutional or entity level, and individual level.

Subsequently, it is mentioned that there are four stages of general activities in building capacity, i.e. (1) identifying and formulating comprehensively the capacity building needs for central and regional governments, regional councils, support institutions and service provides, non-governmental organizations and other community organizations in the framework of accelerating regional autonomy implementation; (2) identifying and formulating priorities for capacity building initiatives; (3) determining comprehensive action plans for capacity building; and (4) providing reference for the central and regional governments in allocating activities and budgets to support the acceleration of the implementation of the regional autonomy.

Based on such framework, Bandung City Government has tried to improve its capacity through some actions. In general manner, the budget for education sector (both school education and apparatus education) is increased by 15-20% annually. Civil servants at all levels and all units are encouraged to upgrade their educational strata. The government even provides some amount of money to support its employees to participate in master program. Similarly, structural training for those who occupy structural position are widely offered. About 85% of echelon II officers have completed Diklatpim[5] II and 100% of echelon III officers have finished Diklatpim III. Additionally, some programs such as discussion forum among different levels of position, workshops, seminar and other similar activities are also offered.[6]

One of the most important programs in which Bandung City officers engaged is the Partnership of USC-SPPD (School of Policy, Planning, and Development) and ITB-CURDS (Center for Urban and Regional Development Studies) on strengthening the capacity of local governments.

It can be implied that the focus of capacity building program conducted by USC and ITB is on the improvement of human resource quality through enhancement of development planning process. Meanwhile, STPDN has focused its study on the socio economic as well as geographical and population potency of the region. Apart of those, there are actually other “indirect” efforts of building capacity such as promoting people participation through stakeholder discussion forum or consultancy mechanism.

By building capacity, it is expected that Bandung City Government will be more capable to overcome the unsuccessful city management, to fasten the transition period, as well as to ensure the better implementation of decentralization policy.

Systemic Synchronization: Towards Integrated Local Development Program

As already discussed in the previous parts, Law No 22/1999 brings about a new paradigm to empower all social elements in order to accelerate good governance in the regions. Good governance in this sense means a harmonious interaction and cooperation among governmental elements and citizens in the region in order to build up participatory, transparent, and sustainable regional development programs. The interaction among those socio-politic elements evolves in three dimensions: synergy among sectors (public, private/business, and community groups), integration among different level of governmental administration (districts, sub-districts, and villages), and internal consolidation/coordination. 

From the fieldwork, it is revealed that, despite existing obstacles, there have been efforts to materialize inter-sector and inter-actor networking in the regional development process.

In the first dimension, synergy among sectors, for example, Bandung City government has frequently involved NGOs, community groups, Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KADIN), high education institutions (academy and university), professional organizations, mass media, and local business actors in formulating a particular policy. There have been tendency that certain groups’ interests might not have been fully accommodated but the most important thing is that there has been a consultancy mechanism between policy authority and their stakeholders. 

The existence of consultation forum for regional development policy is crucial viewed from three aspects. First, this forum may function as the media for the society to express their ideas and expectations about the future of their regions. It can be stated that this forum functions as a medium to democratize the decision process making in the region. Second, the forum may function as a center for various community groups with different interests. This forum is expected to be able to produce a dynamic compromise on development planning agenda in accordance with the needs of the local community. Third, the two-way relations between local government and society members will indirectly create a mechanism of check and balance. This inevitably encourages government to improve its public accountability.   

In the second dimension, the integration among different levels of governmental administration, can be seen from the efforts of Bandung City government to empower the sub-district governments through Mayor Decree No 1342/2001 about the delegation of 96 responsibilities to sub-district government.

The demand for empowering the sub-district governments has become a necessity because since the implementation of Law No 22/1999, there have been significant changes regarding status, functions, and roles of sub-district government. At the moment, sub-district government is no more an institutional regional apparatus to perform deconcentration and co-administration functions. It has become an autonomous local apparatus. This is stated in article 66 ‘Camat (Head of sub-district government) receives the transfer of some of Bupati/Mayor’s authorities’. This article implies that sub-district government functions and takes the role in implementing some of the decentralized authorities. In the meantime, article 67 regulates that village administration is the sub-district apparatus. Thus, the Head of Village government should automatically receive some authorities from the Head of Sub-district government.  

From the perspective of public administration, the transfer of authority from Bupati/Mayor to Head of Sub-district government, and from Head of sub-district government to village headman is not only a necessity but also a must to create effective and efficient government management system, as well as to improve public service quality in the region. If the authorities accumulate at the district/city government, there will be at least two consequences that may come up. First, District/city government will be burdened by overloaded work, which will in turn negatively affect its capability to provide quality public service. Second, Sub-district as the district/city apparatus and village as the sub-district apparatus will be organizations with minimal functions.   

Something to note is that, although there are a lot of obstacles to overcome, empowerment to sub-district and village through the transfer of authority including their advocating resources represents the best approach to achieve the main goals of regional autonomy, i.e. improving the welfare and public service, and creating a more democratic society in the region. 

Finally, the third dimension, internal consolidation and coordination, is the worst dimension compared with the two previous ones. Some facts advocate this phenomenon: regional bureaucracy is generally co-opted by legislative power, while Regional Development Planning Board (Bappeda) cannot appropriately function as the “think-tank” in formulating development policy in the region. In addition, policy institutionalization does not work properly. However, these conditions are expected to get better in accordance with the revisions of some articles of Law No. 22/1999. 

Concluding Remarks

From the above explanation it can be roughly implied that the vision to construct a democratic developmental regime in local level is really a long and complicated process. It becomes trickier since they must satisfy two sets of independent criteria to qualify as being both developmental and democratic. In addition, the transformation process (from less to more developmental, and from less to more democratic) can’t be achieved easily since in fact, there is no obvious classification of states/regime. In other words, the permutation of “developmental and democratic” is not “black and white”; it is a “gray area” instead. And the gradation of “gray” is very much varied among countries and regions.
In spite of the existing problems encountered, decentralization has been able to endorse the construction of democratic developmental local governance, however trifling it is. In other words, strong local bureaucracy and dense of ties with both non-state and other state actors is extremely needed to accelerate the creation of developmental regime in Bandung City.

The most important thing is to be aware that even though the search for new democratic local governance is critical, far more needs to be learned about how they work, for whom, and with what social justice outcomes. In general, while there is some evidence of positive progress, there is less evidence about the pro-poor development outcomes of participatory governance. In this sense, successful decentralization requires strong capacity of central and local government, strong and well-developed civil society, as well as strong power from pressure or interest groups. The interrelation among those three pillars should be maintained in a balanced way to draw a synergic effect and mutual benefit for the favor of local democracy and economic prosperity.


Leftwich, Adrian, 1996, “Two Cheers for Democracy? Democracy and the Developmental State”, in Adrian Leftwich (ed.), Democracy and Development: Theory and Practice, Polity Press.
_______________, 1998, “Forms of the Democratic Development State: Democratic Practises and Development Capacity”, in Mark Robinson and Gordon White (ed.), The Democratic Developmental State: Politics and Institutional Design, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
_______________, 2000, States of Development: On The Primacy of Politics in Development, Cambridge: Polity Press.
MOHA, BAPPENAS and GTZ, 2003, National Framework for Capacity Building to Support Decentralization, As signed by the Minister of Home Affairs and the State Minister for National Development Planning/Head of BAPPENAS on 6 November 2002. Available online at http://www.gtzsfdm.or.id/documents/cap_bld/reports/working_papers/FrameworkNov%202002_EnglishVersion_Final.pdf

This article is taken from a part of my Master Thesis, “Decentralization and Capacity Building in Indonesian Local Administration: A Long Journey for Discovering a Model of ‘Democratic Developmental Regime’ (Case Study of Bandung City Government)”, 2004, Graduate School of International Development, Nagoya University, Japan.

[1]    The concept of weak states is defined as a state or regime that have a low capability to penetrate society, regulate social relationship, extract resources and appropriate or use resources in determined ways. See Chapter 2.
[2]     According to Myrdal, the concept of weak states is characterized by “a general lack of social discipline in underdeveloped countries, signified by deficiencies in legislation and, in particular, in law observance and enforcement, lack of obedience to rules and directives handed down to public officials on various level, often collusion of these officials with powerful persons or groups of persons whose conduct they should regulate, and, at bottom, a general inclination of people in all strata to resist public controls and their implementation. Within the concept of the soft state belongs also corruption. See Chapter 2.
[3]     Low level of corruption is actually tolerable in any societies. In this sense, Leftwich (2000: 161) argues that developmental states have not been immune of corruption. The reason is that in rapidly growing economies, sudden wealth and tidal flows of aid and investment can generate huge temptations, especially in cultures where patron-client relation are deeply embedded.
[4]     “Embedded autonomy” means that the autonomy of the bureaucracy has been embedded in a dense of ties with both non-state and other state actors (internal and eternal) who collectively help to define, redefine, and implement developmental objectives.
[5]     Diklatpim stands for Pendidikan dan Latihan Kepemimpinan (Education and Training on Leadership). The number behind indicates the level of a given position. So, Diklatpim II is training program for Echelon II officers and Diklatpim III is training program for Echelon III officers, etc.
[6]     Interview with Mr. Asep C. Cahyadi, Head of Local Autonomy Development Section, Division of Governmental and Local Autonomy Affairs, Bandung City Government, October 14, 2003.

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