Indonesia Program

The World’s First Majority-Muslim Democracy

As the world’s third largest democracy and the first majority-Muslim democracy, Indonesia continues to be an important model for positive institutional change. It is also a growing economic power as a member of the G-20 with a trillion dollar economy, and is located at several strategic global crossroads: it links East and South Asia and almost half of the world’s total annual seaborne trade tonnage passes through its Straits of Malacca, Sunda, and Lombok.

Over the past two decades, Indonesia has transformed itself from an authoritarian, unitary state into a multi-party, decentralized democracy with direct election of village chiefs up to the president, as well as local and national legislative representatives. In July 2014 Indonesian voters selected their first president in this new “reformasi” era not connected to the Suharto regime, Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”), in a hotly contested but peaceful election, which is an encouraging referendum on the future of democracy in Indonesia.


Launched in 2010 with a $10.5 million gift from the Rajawali Foundation, the Harvard Kennedy School Indonesia Program (HKSIP) promotes research, education, and capacity building in support of democratic governance and institutional development in Indonesia. During Phase I, which ran from 2010 to 2014, HKSIP: 1) brought Indonesians to HKS as degree students, pre-doctoral, post-doctoral, and senior practitioner fellows, and executive education program participants; 2) engaged HKS faculty and students in collaborative policy research with Indonesian colleagues (; 3) offered a customized training program, Leadership Transformation in Indonesia (Transformasi), in cooperation with the Ministry of Home Affairs, for mayors and district heads (walikota and bupati), together with heads of local regional development planning agencies (bappeda); 4) sponsored policy conferences and research seminars such as the annual Asia Public Policy Forum (; and 5) hosted senior Indonesia leaders at HKS.


At present, HKSIP is operating occasional activity-based programming, including hosting of Indonesian fellows and executive education participants; participating in collaborative research; convening of conferences and seminars; and facilitating visiting delegations of senior Indonesian leaders at HKS.

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