Election processes and systems of representation

Parliament and MPR [PDF 2.73Mb, 18 pages]

Voting for the President of Indonesia

Voting for the President of Indonesia

Josh Estey, courtesy of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Elections are fundamental to democracy. Both Australia and Indonesia have regular elections in which the constituents – citizens who vote – elect other citizens to represent them in a national parliament. In Australia these people represent their constituents in Parliament; in Indonesia these people represent their constituents in the MPR.

In Australia each electorate votes for one member of the House of Representatives and each state is represented by 12 Senators (plus two each for the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and the Northern Territory). In Indonesia each constituency (electorate) returns between three and 12 members to the DPR (People’s Representative Council). There are four representatives in the DPD (Regional Representative Council) for each province.

The following table provides an overview of the distinguishing features of both nations’ federal election processes.

Election process


  • Federal elections are held every three years, or earlier if requested by the Prime Minister and approved by the Governor-General.


  • Elections for the DPR and DPD are held every five years.

House of Representatives terms

  • The 151 members of the House of Representatives, which includes the Prime Minister, are elected for a maximum of three years, although this term may be shorter if the Prime Minister requests an earlier election.
  • After a federal election, the party or parties with the support of the majority in the House of Representatives forms government.
  • One member of the House of Representatives represents each electorate. Each electorate has a similar number of voters.

DPR terms

  • The 560 members of the DPR are elected for five-year fixed terms.
  • Members of the DPR represent a constituency (electorate).
  • Constituencies return between three and 12 members each to the DPR depending on the population of the constituency.

Senate terms

  • Twelve senators are elected from each state for six-year fixed terms.
  • Two senators are elected from the Northern Territory and the ACT for a maximum of three years. The terms of territory senators are the same as for members of the House of Representatives.
  • State senators are elected on a rotating basis, with half of the senators elected every three years.

DPD terms

  • The 132 members of the DPD are elected for five-year fixed terms.
  • Members of the DPD represent a province.
  • Four members of the DPD represent each province.

Organisation of elections

  • The qualifications of electors and members of parliament, and the power of the federal Parliament to make electoral laws are included in the Australian Constitution.
  • Federal elections are conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).
  • The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 provides for a standardised national election procedure.

Organisation of elections

  • Articles 19(1), 22C(1) and 22E of the 1945 Constitution state that free and open elections must be held every five years.
  • National elections are run by the General Election Commission (KPU) according to electoral law.
  • The KPU determines which political parties can contest each election. Contesting parties must have branches around the country, not in only one or two provinces.
  • Each party contesting seats for the MPR must include at least 30% female candidates.


  • Voting in federal elections is compulsory for all Australian citizens aged 18 and over.
  • Elections for the House of Representatives use a preferential voting system to elect one member for each electorate. Elections for the Senate use a proportional voting system to fill multiple vacancies in each state and territory.


  • Voting is not compulsory. Voters must register before an election in order to be able to vote.
  • Citizens can vote when they are 17 years old or earlier if they are married.
  • Elections for both the DPR and DPD use proportional representation voting systems to elect multiple members for each constituency.

Both systems:

  • Organise electorates so each member of parliament represents a similar number of voters.
  • Elect a uniform number of representatives to represent states/provinces, regardless of their size or population.
  • Elect representatives for states/provinces for a fixed term.
  • Use an independent government agency to conduct national elections according to a standard procedure.