Learning democracy: Reflections from an Indonesian Green Party intern in SA | Australian Greens

Learning democracy: Reflections from an Indonesian Green Party intern in SA

In April 2019, Partai Hijau (the Indonesian Greens) will run in the country's election for the very first time – and to help prepare for the experience, the party sent an intern to South Australia to learn directly from the SA Greens.

By Kristina Viri
Friday, April 20, 2018

In April 2019, Indonesia will hold a general election – and Partai Hijau (PHI, also known as the Indonesian Greens) will run for the first time. With a number of senate candidates running, we are excited to bring forward a Green agenda for Indonesia.

As a representative of Partai Hijau, I (pictured on left in the image above) joined an internship program organised by the Australian Greens’ International Development Committee (IDC) in cooperation with the South Australian Greens. The purpose of this internship was to learn more about the upcoming election and how to best prepare for it.

I learned many things during the internship program held in South Australia. First, I learned how the Greens support candidates during the election process. The Greens SA have a thoughtful campaign and communications strategy, and centrally organise and prepare all of the campaign materials and activities for all Greens candidates. The Greens also provide training and team building for their volunteers, which I found incredibly valuable.

Second, I learned about inexpensive but effective campaign methods – like using social media effectively, door-knocking, handing out how-to-vote cards, and simple campaigning like standing on the side of the highway and holding a Greens poster.

I was interested in joining all campaign activities organised by the Greens, especially the door-knocking. It was a challenge to convince people to vote for the Greens, but it was an important process to engage people personally and understand their aspirations. I had some meaningful conversations with people during the door-knocking; some of them expressed strong opinions related to public transport, and the issue of mining in South Australia.

Third, I was able to closely observe Greens candidates and how they interact with the public. I met state MP Mark Parnell at a rally organised by the Community Alliance South Australia (CASA). I also met state candidate Tammy Franks at the 2018 International Women’s Day rally at Hindmarsh Square, while at every campaign activity there were also Greens candidates present from which to learn.

These are lessons I’ve rarely found in Indonesia. Many political parties are still trapped in a traditional political practice that emphasises figures, and they don't have a good system to support their candidates. They also face the problem of funding, as political parties don't get funding from the public in Indonesia. That's why PHI would pay special attention to ethics codes, transparent recruitment systems and accountable financial systems of the country's political parties this year.

My hope is that Partai Hijau will become a viable alternative in Indonesia. We’re a party that stands for values like anti-corruption, democracy and, of course, protecting the environment – as well as restoring the function of political parties to represent the people who elect them.