Getting Started

This summer, I am working for the Center for Constitutional Studies at Andalas University (PUSaKO) and the Constitutional Court of Indonesia. Although I couldn’t travel to Indonesia due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, I am immensely grateful to Justice Saldi Isra of the Constitutional Court and Feri Amsari at PUSaKO for adapting the internship program so that I may work remotely.

Throughout the summer, I’ll be working with researchers at PUSaKO and the Constitutional Court to conduct research on electoral systems and presidential authorities in Indonesia and the United States. As a political science major in college, a lot of my coursework involved the study of electoral systems, constitutional design, the structure and role of legislatures, and presidential and parliamentary systems. I’m excited to apply that training in political science and to continue studying these topics from an Indonesian perspective during my work at PUSaKO and the Constitutional Court. Furthermore, after taking Constitutional Law last semester here at William & Mary, I’m looking forward expanding my knowledge in this field beyond the American context by studying the Indonesian Constitution. I hope to bring what I’ve learned during undergrad and my 1L year to contribute to our comparative research this summer.

Before starting my research for PUSaKO and the Constitutional Court, Feri has organized a series of virtual lectures with experts in elections and electoral systems, constitutional law, rule of law, and other relevant subjects so that I may develop a better understanding of the Indonesian legal system. In the first of these lectures last week, Mr. Adhy Aman, a senior program manager at International IDEA, discussed the electoral systems used in Indonesia and the United States for presidential elections. 

Then, after getting a foundation in the relevant aspects of Indonesian law, I’ll work with researchers from PUSaKO and the Constitutional Court to conduct research on the general theme of electoral systems and presidential authorities in Indonesia and the U.S. More specifically, we will look at how both countries resolve electoral disputes in presidential elections (such as the dispute in Florida between Al Gore and George W. Bush in 2000) and consider the nomination of presidential candidates in Indonesia and the United States.

In addition to gaining familiarity with the Indonesian legal system and conducting research, a third component of the internship program is to develop a better understanding of Indonesia’s culture, politics, history, languages, people, and food. Of course, this is more difficult to do in Williamsburg, Virginia than it would be in Padang or Jakarta – but we're making it work! Faiz, a researcher for the Constitutional Court, told me to find some Indonesian food around Williamsburg – an order I am happy to comply with (recommendations to follow!). Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve also been reading about the history of Indonesia – from its colonization by the Dutch in the seventeenth century, the proclamation of independence by nationalist leaders like Soekarno and formation of the Indonesian state after World War II, Soekarno’s “Guided Democracy”, autocratic rule under Soeharto, and democratization and reforms in the post-Soeharto era. I know I’ve barely scratched the surface so far, but I’m excited to continue learning about this country over the course of the summer.