Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Political challenges facing local leaders

A few notes from the 3rd International Conference on Decentralization (ICODEC) at IPDN yesterday:

1. From Kevin I learned about the importance of distinguishing a leader's role as "head of state" & "head of government". A head of government is accountable for results and should not be allowed to "hide" behind symbols of state when s/he is criticized.

2. From Philips I learned about the high cost of a political system without trust. For example, for the province of West Java, each candidate/contender feels the need to place a witness at each voting station. Considering there are 70,000 voting stations throughout the province and Rp 100,000. for each witness' lunch on election day & training day, then we are looking at Rp 7 billion just for witnesses. Because there is no trust, politics becomes a very expensive affair.

3. I argued that the performance of local leaders can be enhanced by 3 things: a) a system of asymmetrical decentralization based on performance, b) some distance between local politicians (councillors) and their political parties, and c) political education for the people to become more informed voters.

Overall, I was impressed by the organizers' and participants' passion for learning & sharing. Debates were lively and involved  multiple IPDN campuses throughout Indonesia connected through smooth teleconferencing.

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