This article explores the conduct of local governance in the decentralization era in Indonesia using new institutionalist framework. It departs from the argument that Indonesia’s democratization and decentralization created new political actors in local sphere, as suggested by the rising numbers of new autonomous regions after decentralization policy started in 1999. This article argues that, first, informal institutions can be a substitute to formal arrangement in local governance. Second, local governance and local political conduct are elite biased that utilize formal democratic institutions appropriately for the elite’s interests. To explore this phenomenenon, a case study method that focuses on Gorontalo Province as one of the products of decentralization policy in Indonesia is used Data were collected through in-depth interviews, FGD, historical sources, and Internet-based news outlets. This article concludes that the model of local governance in Gorontalo is an arena for contending social forces. It can be seen from the shared interests between indigenous elites and the interests of formal leaders, who are elected through the mechanism of direct local elections (pilkada). The mutual interests within formal dan informal procedures were utilized in conducting local governance. The cultural leaders’ elite groups used ideological power resources derived from traditional values, teachings and wisdom which were not only to influence the course of local governance, but also to constraint the formal leaders’ behavior.
- local governance
- new institutionalism