“IRI introduced me to new methods of communication and due to IRI’s work, I have been able to double the amount of constituents I reach,” said Iluh Purnaminingsih, a district legislator from Karangasem District representing the Hanura Party in Bali.

Since Indonesia’s transition to democracy in 1998, the country has pursued an aggressive decentralization of political power from the national government to provincial and local authorities. In the brief period since 2001, hundreds of local legislators were vested with new responsibilities for fulfilling public services. To support these local legislators, including Purnaminingsih, IRI offered trainings to help them reach out to and address the needs of their constituents.

In Maluku, Bali and Yogyakarta, IRI brought together local legislators to identify and share best practices to improve constituent services. In one example, Purnaminingsih analyzed the findings of focus groups and discussions with her constituents which both identified education as an area in need of improvement in her district. After meeting fellow district legislators, Purnaminingsih replicated some of their constituent outreach techniques, including creating a Facebook page to aid in her own constituent outreach and to act as a tool to solicit her constituents’ concerns.

Based on the focus groups and input received from her constituents’ Facebook posts, Purnaminingsih designed a program to provide merit-based scholarships to low-income high school and university students from her district. Purnaminingsih submitted her recommendation to the Education, Youth and Sport office of the district of Karangasem, where it is currently pending review. Given the initial success of this initiative, Purnaminingsih is a strong proponent of using new media techniques and continues to keep in contact with her constituents through Facebook.

With funding from the National Endowment for Democracy, the local legislators who participated in IRI’s trainings, shared what they learned with more then 1,000 of their political party colleagues and peers. The legislators intend to continue this practice with a focus on improving constituent service in their respective districts.

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