From Bullets to Ballots: Aceh elections bolster peace process

24 Jun 2009
Paul Barber, TAPOL

The victories of local parties in last April’s provincial and district elections in Aceh are further confirmation of the success of the peace process underway since August 2005, says TAPOL in its latest Election Update.

The former rebel movement, GAM, transformed itself into a political party, Partai Aceh, which triumphed in the local elections.  Thanks in part to the successful reintegration of combatants into society, many former GAM activists now occupy influential positions as governor, mayors or district chiefs.

The participation of local parties was in itself a significant breakthrough, says TAPOL.  Regional-based parties were allowed to stand in the Aceh local elections for the first time in Indonesia.  They are not permitted in other provinces.

A close political affinity has even emerged between sections of GAM and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.  The President’s Partai Demokrat won the largest number of the seats allocated to Aceh for the national parliament, the DPR.  Only national parties are allowed to stand in the national elections.

The results are analysed in ‘Aceh elections: A foregone conclusion’, published online today by TAPOL (

The April elections in Aceh were for the national DPR and the Regional Representative Council DPD, and local Aceh Provincial Assembly, DPRA, and Regency/District legislatures, DPRK.