The approval of the proposal to extend the term of village heads from six to nine years has sparked both support and opposition in society.
This proposal was voiced through a demonstration on January 17, 2023, in front of the Indonesian Parliament building by three village government associations, citing the need for the effectiveness of village head performance and reducing post-election conflicts.
However, Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) noted that corruption cases at the village level consistently held the highest position from 2015 to 2021.
During these seven years, there were 592 cases of village corruption with a state loss value of IDR 433.8 billion. Extending the term of village heads is seen as opening the door to further abuse of power.
To address this issue, four UGM students mapped the discourse on extending the term of village heads. They measured the effectiveness of the extended tenure on the performance of the district head in one of the villages in Sleman, Yogyakarta.
“The spread of the discourse, both pro and contra, on extending the term of village heads is interesting for us to map. We want to see how this discourse rolls out in the national mass media, who the supporting actors are, and where the opposition comes from,” explained team leader Rahma Kintara from the Department of Politics and Government on Tuesday (November 21).
These four students make up the Social Sciences and Humanities Research team, part of the Student Creativity Program, an annual competition held by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology.
The team consists of Rahma Kintara (Social and Political Sciences), Jasmine Hasna (Social and Political Sciences), Rafi Manggala (Law), and Aqil Ersan (Social and Political Sciences). The team is supervised directly by Devy Dian Cahyati, a Faculty of Social and Political Sciences lecturer.
“In addition, we also want to see the response of the Girikerto Village community regarding the discourse of extending the term of the district head. Later, the response will be compared with their assessment of the district head’s performance so far,” added Kintara.
The discourse mapping conducted by Kintara and the team used data from 100 news articles covering 255 statements from 86 individuals and 18 organizations in the national mass media.
The results showed that the discourse was most frequently addressed by members of the House of Representatives, with a frequency of 60 statements, followed by village heads, with a frequency of 39.
“These two actors are most connected to the discourse of maintaining stability. Meanwhile, the second discourse comes mainly from civil society groups and academics who reject the extension of the village head’s term, arguing that it undermines democracy,” said Kintara.
“This shows that government elites dominate support for extending the village head’s term at the national level.”
The case study in one village in Sleman showed similar results. Only two out of ten figures interviewed supported the discourse of extending the term of the village head. Both came from the government elite.
Reasons for community rejection vary. Some believe that the justice element of the current village head is not good, some think nine years is too long and makes work slow, and some opine the term is not too important, but the leadership performance is what matters.
“Hopefully, these findings will be useful for future policy making,” concluded Kintara.
Author: Jasmine Hasna