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Law-Making as a Strategy for Change: Indonesia’s New Village Law

  • Jacqueline VEL (a1), Yando ZAKARIA (a2) and Adriaan BEDNER (a3)

In 2014, the Indonesian president signed a new Village Law (no. 6/2014). This statute started a new phase in the ongoing history of village governance policy, moving the village from a position as an administrative unit in a top-down system towards one of an autonomous community. The present article analyses how distinct “policy communities” in Indonesia started a process that helped shape the 2014 Village Law in order to promote their long-term political agendas, how their involvement was facilitated by the particular features of Indonesia’s law-making process, and how they managed to get a Bill passed that went against considerable vested interest from government bureaucracies. However, they have been less successful in securing implementation of the new law, as this process is still dominated by the government bureaucracies that were “defeated” in the law-making process.

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Senior researcher at the Van Vollenhoven Institute, Leiden Law School, Leiden University and at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) in Leiden. Correspondence to Jacqueline Vel, Van Vollenhoven Institute, Steenschuur 25, 2311 ES Leiden, The Netherlands. E-mail address:


Independent researcher at the Circle for Rural and Agrarian Reform (KARSA) in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. A first draft of this paper was presented at the international workshop “New Law, New Villages? Changing Rural Indonesia” in May 2016 in Leiden, organized by KITLV, Van Vollenhoven Institute, and the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights Research of the University of Oslo. The authors are very grateful to Gerry van Klinken and Ward Berenschot who made comments to earlier drafts, and two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments. A considerable part of the research for this paper was conducted with the aid of a KITLV fellowship (Y.Z.) and by the programme “Governance Markets and Citizens in Indonesia” funded by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (J.V.).


KITLV Professor of Law and Society in Indonesia at the Van Vollenhoven Institute, Leiden Law School, Leiden University, The Netherlands.

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