Challenges to Democracy in Indonesia

democracy in indonesia

With more than 204 million registered voters for next week’s presidential election, Indonesia is one of the world’s largest democracies. It is also one of the sternest tests yet for democracy’s progress. The country’s political transition from authoritarian rule to democratic governance began in 1998 and was facilitated by free and fair elections, the rising influence of regional centers as a result of decentralization since 2001, and the first peaceful transfer of power between democratically elected presidents – Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to his successor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in 2014.

But despite these achievements, the state still exerts an overwhelming influence over Indonesian politics – not only through its own direct interventions but by incentivizing legislative parties to collude rather than compete, distorting electoral representation and partisan politics from the local level up, and permitting dynastic politics to thrive. Corruption is widespread; respect for personal freedoms is constrained by broad and vaguely worded laws – some dating back to the Suharto era or even Dutch colonial times – that allow entrenched economic elites, religious organizations and security forces to threaten and intimidate journalists, publishers and NGOs.

Although Indonesians’ faith in democracy is strong, the country faces serious challenges, not only as it prepares for its most consequential election to date but in the future. The 2024 contest, for example, appears to be headed toward a close race between Jokowi and former general Prabowo Subianto, who ran in 2014 and 2019. Prabowo’s checkered past has drawn dire narratives from abroad that suggest his victory would be a death knell for the country’s fledgling democracy.

The most serious challenges, however, are more likely to stem from the underlying social and political conditions that produced Indonesia’s electoral landscape. They include the dominance of wealthy elites who can trace their fortunes to the heyday of Suharto’s autocracy; the oversized legislative coalitions required by a multiparty presidential system, which incentivize parties to collude and erode the effectiveness of a rump parliamentary opposition; gross inequalities that create marked differences in the quality of democracy across the nation; antipluralist and illiberal social forces that have grown more potent over time; an army that is reluctant to cede full control of politics to civilian forces; high levels of official corruption; and electoral clientelism and vote buying that distort representation and partisan politics from the local to the national level.

Fortunately, outside government, efforts are underway to manage polarization at the societal level. Prominent civil society organizations such as the Wahid Institute and the National Democratic Institute have a long history of supporting programs for the consolidation of democracy in Indonesia. Meanwhile, an array of grassroots media-based nongovernmental organizations are seeking to challenge regressive, antidemocratic political forces and educate voters on the dangers of extremism. These and other efforts deserve support. But, above all, voters must demand more from politicians – not only promises of good governance but tangible actions on the ground that ensure their electoral voices are heard and that democratic institutions are protected and strengthened.

The Relationship Between Democracy and Development

A democracy is a form of government in which citizens directly elect representatives to make laws and policies. It is also a system of political governance characterized by the principle that people’s interests should be equally advanced. This definition is compatible with a variety of electoral systems, for example both first-past-the-post voting and proportional representation. However, the definition does not settle normative questions about whether democracy is desirable in any particular context.

One popular justification for democracy appeals to the value of individual liberty. This view holds that each person’s life is deeply shaped by the larger social, legal and cultural environment in which she lives and that only when democratic participation gives her a say in collective decision-making will she have a chance to govern herself freely.

Another justification argues that the character of democracy encourages people to stand up for themselves and their rights. For this reason, many philosophers have argued that democracy is better able to protect citizens’ interests than other forms of rule. For instance, John Stuart Mill argues that the fact that democracy involves giving citizens a share in political decision-making forces those making those decisions to take into account the judgments and interests of a wider range of individuals than do monarchy or aristocracy.

In addition to its procedural aspects, some theorists argue that democracy should be defined in terms of substantive equality. This may involve the formal equality of one vote per citizen in a direct or indirect election for representation in parliament, and/or it may encompass more profound principles like equal opportunities for participation in deliberation and coalition building leading up to elections.

The relationship between democracy and development has been a major topic of debate in recent decades. Some think that economic growth must come before democracy and that democracies are best suited to societies in the early stages of development when they are likely to generate more sustainable levels of wealth and prosperity.

Others argue that democratic institutions and practices can be justified without reference to economic outcomes. In fact, there is ample evidence that democracy can produce positive results in the short run even when it is accompanied by relatively low levels of economic growth. In the short term, a democratic system of government can promote social cohesion and peace, reduce inequality and poverty, and create jobs and investment in infrastructure.

In the long term, however, the economic performance of a democracy depends on a wide variety of factors, including its quality of education and health care, its capacity to innovate, the quality of its financial markets, and the strength of civil society. Nevertheless, most observers agree that the overall trend has been favorable for democracy and that it is a good idea. The question remains, therefore, how to evaluate different moral justifications for democracy and to what extent they should be weighed against purely instrumental considerations. Ultimately, that is a question for individual philosophers to answer on the basis of their own values and conceptions of human beings and society.

Democracy in America

democracy in america

The four volumes of the 19th century classic Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville have become a touchstone for political thinkers, historians and a vast array of writers – including Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, Hermann Melville’s Moby Dick and Franz Kafka’s The Trial. It is a work that, for its daring conjectures and elegant prose, formidable length and narrative complexity, has always been subject to wide interpretations. Some read it as a lavish hymn to American power and rising global pre-eminence, while others view it as a cautionary tale of the dangers of hubris and the inexorable destruction that awaits those who do not respect the limits of human powers.

While Tocqueville praised the democratic innovations of American society that he saw, such as the political party system, representative government and one man/one vote, he also noted that these innovations have not eliminated the inequality that was at the root of European feudal autocracies. He believed that this inequality would persist, but he did not believe that it would necessarily grow in size and scope. He thought that, as democracy spread, it would cause people to be driven to seek ways to equalise the property, status and power of other people. The desire for equality would make them feel that current inequalities were purely contingent and thus potentially alterable by human action itself.

Tocqueville also recognised that, while democracy spreads passion for the equalisation of power, property and wealth, it also makes people less concerned about protecting fundamental human rights. He was particularly worried that this development could lead to the erosion of freedom, a deterioration of morals and a loss of respect for law.

In the present day, many observers – including scholars of American politics – are dismayed to see that some of Tocqueville’s worries have been proved to be true. American democracy has been hijacked by the interests of capital and financial power, with money politics permeating every aspect of election, legislation and administration. The US has a habit of interfering in other countries’ internal affairs and seeking regime change to install pro-US governments, with disastrous consequences for the people of those countries.

It has been widely argued that the US’s so-called ‘democracy’ is a sham. A recent report by the Brookings Institution warned that US democracy is at a “tipping point” and that it is declining faster than previously thought. This decline is fuelled by a number of factors, including the growing number of voter restrictions and electoral fraud and the public’s lack of faith in the government. The fractious nature of American politics has also contributed to this disintegration. Political polarization is on the rise and both Republicans and Democrats are increasingly following their voters down the path of ideological extremism, with mutual inhibition and antagonism becoming commonplace. As a result, they are moving towards what one scholar has called factionalized anocracy – the halfway stage between autocracy and democracy. In addition, political violence has become more frequent and more widely accepted, with the brutal attack on the Capitol in Washington a case in point.

The Importance of Freedom

Freedom is an important value to have, and it can bring many advantages to both the individual and society as a whole. It gives people power and choice, which leads to increased productivity and a flourishing economy. However, it is also an important concept to understand, and it’s not as simple as “everything for everybody.” Freedom has many different aspects and is much more complex than simply being able to do whatever you want without restraint.

Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association and assembly, freedom to own property and set up private businesses, and the right to travel freely are all examples of freedoms that benefit society as a whole. They all help to create a prosperous environment that is enriched by vibrant communities.

However, the most important aspect of freedom is freedom from coercion and oppression. It is the foundation upon which all other rights are built and it must always be respected. People who lack freedom are at a disadvantage in the workplace, at home, and in their personal lives. Freedom is a fundamental value that should be enjoyed by all, and it is crucial for a healthy society.

The most common way that freedom is violated is through censorship and other government-imposed restrictions on what people can say or do. This is often seen in countries with dictatorial regimes, but it can be found all over the world in places that are ruled by democratically elected governments. In these cases, censorship is used as a way to control the media and restrict the flow of information. In addition to this, there are many other ways that freedom is eroded.

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Problems and Benefits of a Career in Law


Law consists of the rules that govern human behaviour and relationships. It covers a wide range of topics, from commercial transactions to medical jurisprudence to the rules that apply when an individual dies and leaves behind heirs. Law is important because it provides a framework for people to live peacefully together. It protects their rights, and imposes sanctions on those who break the rules. It also serves to promote social justice and help people adapt to change. But, it is not without its problems. The law is complex and can sometimes be difficult to understand.

One of the most obvious problems is that it can be hard to predict how laws will be applied. For example, a court may not follow a previous ruling or might interpret a statute in an unusual way. This can create uncertainty and delay the dispensation of justice. Another problem is that it can be difficult to enforce the law. For example, it might be difficult to get a conviction in court or to obtain compensation when someone is harmed by an accident or as a result of a malicious rumour.

A further challenge is that the law can be influenced by politics and power. For example, Max Weber reshaped thinking on the extension of the state, whilst modern military and police powers pose challenges that would not have been foreseen by Locke or Montesquieu. Other problems include excessive formalism and a lack of transparency. For example, drafting legislation in complicated language might make lawyers feel clever but is not always helpful to clients. It is also not easy to keep up with the rapid changes in society and the legal profession.

Studying law requires a wide range of skills and a deep understanding of many aspects of human life. This is why it can be a rewarding career choice for those who are passionate about it. But, like any other subject, it has its disadvantages. It can be a demanding and stressful profession, especially in large firms with heavy caseloads. And, some lawyers find that they do not enjoy the work and leave the profession.

The law is a vast and fascinating area of study with significant influence on the lives of most of us. Oxford Reference offers more than 34,000 concise definitions and in-depth, specialist encyclopedic entries covering the main areas of law. The law is important because it provides a framework for peace and order, protects individual rights, promotes social justice, and allows for orderly, managed social change. It is, therefore, essential to the well-being of any society.

The Limits of Democracy in Indonesia

democracy in indonesia

Indonesians are preparing to vote in a presidential election that takes place against a backdrop of increasing democratic fragility. The telltale signs include a government increasingly uninterested in public opinion and adept at inhibiting dissent, changes to electoral rules designed to tilt the playing field for favored candidates and so-called “nepo babies,” and attempts by legislators to dismantle key sources of accountability.

These developments are particularly troubling for the country’s democracy advocates, many of whom have long hoped to see the emergence of a robust middle class and a government that can effectively tackle entrenched social challenges like high poverty rates, uneven health and educational services, and the activity of radical sectarian groups. In the years since President Jokowi’s victory in a 2014 direct election, Indonesia has indeed demonstrated some of the hallmarks of a maturing democracy, including macroeconomic stability, a lively parliament, and progress on professional reform in the army and police forces.

The political system’s weaknesses, however, are a constant reminder of the limits of democracy in a society with shifting coalitions and distributed power centers. While some observers fear that Prabowo will take advantage of this structure to expand his sphere of influence, the reality is that he will struggle to bend a system designed to make it hard for individual leaders to amass too much power to his own ends.

For example, the switch to direct regional elections allowed Indonesian voters to select local executives who do most of the day-to-day governing and have made a tangible difference in their communities. As a result, some of the country’s most popular politicians started their careers as regional executives and are now nationally recognized because of their administrative skills. This system has also defused potentially polarizing identity-based divisions by providing incentives for parties to form governing coalitions across ideological lines in pursuit of electoral victory and access to state resources.

In contrast, patronage-based politics weakens democracy by rewarding elites for sacrificing democratic institutions and norms in the interest of political expediency while complacent citizens watch helplessly. This is the current trend in democracy worldwide, as seen most notably in India under Narendra Modi and in Trump-era America.

If Indonesians want to avert the threat of such decline, they need to re-engage in political activism and focus on promoting civic participation, building democratic institutions, and ensuring electoral integrity. This requires not only an active citizenry, but a more mature one that understands that democracy is not something that happens to a nation but rather a process that must be actively guarded and nurtured by its citizens. This task falls largely on Indonesia’s civil society organizations, who must develop a compelling political message and viable electoral alternatives to the dominant party system in order to preserve Indonesia’s democracy. If not, the country may be headed for a cliff’s edge in its two-decade-long march toward greater democracy.

The Challenges of Democracy


Democracy is the idea that citizens have a right and responsibility to govern themselves through elected representatives. It also implies that citizens are free to form associations, speak their minds and trade ideas, and hold each other accountable. This is a fine balance, and it requires compromise and understanding. It demands that government deliver services and be trustworthy, that it respect all citizens, and that citizens contribute, whether through taxes or voting or in other ways.

As a result, democracy can be difficult to achieve and sustain. It is not surprising that, as America celebrates its 247th anniversary of independence this July 4, political scientists have debated how well democracy really works. The debate has been raging since the 1930s, when advisers to President Franklin Roosevelt suggested he might have to temporarily assume dictatorial powers to get through a severe economic crisis.

In the 21st century, a similar argument has been raised, with some scholars arguing that the US is no longer a democracy because it does not do everything that would be necessary to maintain freedom and equality for all citizens. The debate has grown even more contentious, as recent events have brought attention to the challenges of democracy worldwide.

This article outlines some key issues and developments in the theory and practice of democracy, and introduces readers to several ways that citizens can participate in democracy and help keep it healthy. It is intended to help students and others interested in democracy understand its complexity and to promote discussions about how we might improve democratic governance.

Despite its popularity, there is no one definition of democracy. In fact, a great deal of variation exists among approaches to measuring democracy (and a variety of other closely related concepts). Most of these measures use evaluations by experts in each country and year to assess whether or not, and to what extent, a particular country has the characteristics that define a democracy. These experts are usually academics who specialize in the countries and years they evaluate, or they may be nationals of those countries who know them very well. In addition, many of these measurement approaches rely on the analysis of news reports and academic literature as sources of information.

Using these different types of data, we can construct rankings of countries for various indicators of democracy. This ranking helps to identify important trends and developments in democracy. In particular, it can highlight which countries are improving and which ones are deteriorating. It can also help to compare different measures of democracy, and to distinguish between those that focus on the main aspects of democratic governance and those that take into account additional elements that are often important for understanding the quality and nature of a democracy. This is particularly useful when assessing the performance of and support for democracy in different regions of the world. For example, our V-Dem data show that political support for democracy responds thermostatically to changes in the rule of law: increases in the degree to which citizens believe they are treated equally under the law should depress citizen demand for more democracy, while decreases should boost it.

Democracy in America

democracy in america

When people think of democracy they probably think about a system that allows the free expression of ideas and the peaceful resolution of disagreements. They also likely imagine a government that is transparent and responsive to the public, and that provides checks against corruption. But democracy is not only about the political system: it is a way of life. Democracy is about the shared sense that we live in a constantly changing world, that things could always be different than they presently are. It is a sense that is nourished by the dynamic forces of democracy itself.

The wellsprings of this sense of contingency are many and varied. One obvious source is the frequent interruptions of certainties that occur in democracies when elected officials make promises they cannot keep and do not fulfill. This is a powerful source of discontent in democratic societies. Another source is the constant reminder of a limit on personal power posed by democratic institutions that are not subject to the kind of external checks that are found in more traditional societies. These limits make it difficult for individuals to achieve a kind of mastery over their own lives.

In Tocqueville’s view, democracy’s inescapable limit on power leads to a desire for equality in other areas of life. He was struck by the fact that in American society there was a constant struggle to level the playing field. For example, married women were always battling to overcome the principle that a husband’s authority is innate and God-given.

This desire for equality was reflected in the growing popularity of self-consciously democratic literature and art. Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, a celebration of the boundlessness of the human potential to change, is one such work. Another is Hermann Melville’s Moby-Dick, a cautionary tale of the hubris and self-destruction that are inevitable for those who act as if there are no limits to progress.

Tocqueville thought that democratic societies, in their drive to equalize all aspects of life, would eventually destroy or modify the great inequality between men and women that appeared to be rooted in nature. He called this process ‘social revolution’.

As a result, he believed that the United States would have an interest in encouraging the spread of democracy because further democratization enhances the lives of citizens of other countries and contributes to international peace. As a result, democracies tend not to launch wars or terrorist attacks against one another. As the United States continues to promote democracy in the hemisphere, it should pragmatically reassess its diplomatic methods and focus on cooperation rather than confrontation.

What Is Freedom?


Freedom is the right to do whatever you want without interference or coercion. It can also be viewed as the liberation from slavery or from any other form of oppression. However, freedom is a more complicated concept than simply being able to do whatever you want to do, because it also involves respecting others’ freedoms.

For example, freedom of association allows people to form clubs, societies, trade unions or political parties with whomever they choose. Similarly, freedom of peaceful assembly gives individuals the right to take part in a public demonstration or meeting with whomever they choose. These freedoms are essential to a society’s functioning and help ensure that people can express their opinions freely and meet with other members of society. However, these freedoms come under regular attack from governments that try to stifle criticism. For example, in Egypt it is currently illegal to criticize the government, with numerous people arrested for tweeting, supporting football clubs, editing movies and even giving interviews.

The concept of freedom is a complex one, and there are a wide variety of definitions and applications. For instance, Kant wrote that “freedom is a spectral illusion; you can only glimpse it, and then it’s wrenched back from you.”

He went on to explain that freedom is an idea whose potential value cannot be realized until it is ‘consistent with itself’. Kant meant that freedom is only valuable if it can be applied consistently, and this consistency is necessary to prevent exploitation of the idea.

Freedom has many personal advantages, for example, the freedom to think for yourself and make your own choices. It also gives more power to individuals, allowing them to feel more valued by society as a whole. This in turn helps create a productive economy, which is vital for a society to thrive.

There are also a number of societal advantages to freedom, for example, the ability to protest peacefully and have a voice in politics, the ability to earn money, and the ability to move where you want without having to consider your safety or the impact on the local community.

However, freedom can be abused and it can lead to oppression and exploitation. It’s important that we protect these freedoms and fight for the rights of all.

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What Is Law?

Law is a set of rules that a society or government creates and enforces in order to deal with crimes, business agreements, social relationships and more. Its precise definition is a subject of long-standing debate. The primary purpose of the law is to ensure a stable society and protect citizens’ fundamental rights. It does this through a range of mechanisms including laws, police, courts and sanctions for breaking them.

Legal systems vary widely across the world and the definition of law reflects this diversity. Laws may be made by a group legislature, or by a single legislator in the form of statutes; created by executive decrees and regulations; or established by judges through precedent. Private individuals can also create legally binding contracts and arbitration agreements which offer alternatives to standard court litigation. A central theme of the law is that it must be objective and impartial. This principle is embodied in the concept of rule of law which holds that decisions must be based on fact, evidence and reasoning rather than the personal or political views of judges or other individuals involved in the decision making process.

The laws that govern a country are called domestic or civil law, and may include criminal, tax, family, property and commercial law as well as constitutional and international law. The principles governing these laws are usually written down and are influenced by culture, religion and religious books such as the Vedas, Bible or Koran. They are largely trustable to people because they come from a source that is familiar to them through their family and social habits.

It is the responsibility of government to uphold these laws and to provide access to a functioning justice system and transparent state institutions. Other important aspects of law are core human, procedural and property rights that are enshrined in the law. This is often enhanced by a system of checks and balances where the transition of power is subject to the law, whilst corruption or abuses of state authority are checked by a free press, independent judiciary or other mechanisms.

Studying the law is a fascinating academic discipline that opens up the opportunity to work in a wide variety of careers. It is not only the chance to develop a broad set of skills, but it offers a unique window into the complex and fascinating workings of our society. Law students learn to think differently, use a distinctive vocabulary and hone their analytical skills. Law teachers teach their students to write using clear and concise language, preparing them for the day when they will have to advise clients who are not trained lawyers. This is not just for the sake of clarity – it is because drafting legal documents that are unnecessarily complicated can be counterproductive. It can make them difficult to read and understand, and they may not be enforceable in court. This can lead to errors in interpretation and ultimately to incorrect decisions being made.