Dr.ir. Jacqueline Vel (KITLV/ Van Vollenhoven Institute, Leiden)
The new Village Law has been the central topic of debates on local governance in Indonesia since 2014. The new Law (No. 6/2014) dramatically increases the responsibilities and budgets of the village administration. Villages receive large development grants from the state’s budget of up to Rp. 1 billion (approximately US$75,000). The responsibilities and powers of village heads and their staff will also receive a remarkable boost. Villagers are supposed to take a more active role in the public life of their villages. Such provisions potentially provide for a radical change of village life in Indonesia. This presentation will highlight a number of assumptions in this new law that are crucial for the success of its implementation. Then it will discuss how do these assumptions relate to results of previous or ongoing research on local governance in Indonesia. Questions include: Is the desa the most suitable administrative level for public support of rural development? What are the essential factors for ensuring the effective use of development budgets in accordance with villagers’ priorities? What can we learn from previous research about of village institutions in the context of local power relations? This presentation is based on an overview of papers presented at the Village Law workshop in Leiden in May 2016. It ends with suggestions for a research agenda on local governance.