The State of Democracy in Indonesia

democracy in indonesia

As Indonesia prepares to vote this week, democracy watchers should be aware that the country’s progress in building a robust political system is not yet complete. This is not due to the inability of voters, civil society or the military to make a difference—on the contrary, it stems from the failure of governing institutions to uphold democratic principles. Moreover, the failure of the state to uphold fundamental rights and freedoms undermines the political legitimacy of the system itself.

The process of democratization in Indonesia has been underway since the end of President Suharto’s dictatorship in 1998 and is rooted in the country’s founding constitution. The reform era has seen democratic institutions emerge, including a constitutionally mandated multiparty system and limits on the presidential power, decentralization of authority to the regions and the first peaceful transition of power in the country’s history.

While these positive trends have accelerated under the leadership of President Joko Widodo, progress remains fragile and a number of challenges persist. Political corruption is still widespread, and the economy has been plagued by slow growth and a widening income gap. Radical sectarian elements and opportunistic elements from the old elite remain active in the country, contributing to a polarized society. The nation is also vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, a challenge that requires a collective effort across the spectrum of public and private sectors.

Many observers agree that a minimum set of conditions should be met for a regime to qualify as a democracy, and these include free and fair elections, the rule of law, consolidated civil rights, an efficient judiciary and more. A maximist view, however, is that these conditions are not enough, and that democracies must also guarantee a range of additional rights, such as economic and social equality, religious freedom and more.

This article is the latest in a series examining the state of democracy in indonesia. To read more articles in the series, click here.

Sana Jaffrey is a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a senior fellow in its Asia Program. She focuses on Indonesia and the broader Southeast Asian region.

Jaffrey’s research explores the intersection between Islam and democracy, and she is a leading expert on Muslim political participation in Indonesia. She is an advocate for reforming the country’s democracy and supports efforts to promote inclusive, pluralistic politics in Indonesia. Her work is published in numerous journals, books and newspapers and she has spoken extensively on these topics at universities and forums around the world. Her book “Islam and Democracy in Indonesia: The Unfinished Reformation” was published by Oxford University Press in 2022. She is a member of the Global Commission on Elections and Democracy.

Democracies and Democracy


Democracy is government of the people, by the people, for the people. It is a term coined from the Greek demos (“people”) and kratos (“rule”). Democracy is one of many political systems throughout history that claim to be representative, but it remains one of the most popular forms of governance today. There is a widespread belief that democracy is the ideal form of politics, and that the absence of democracy is tantamount to tyranny.

The question is whether this view of democracy has any foundation. Many scholars have argued that political institutions must be assessed in terms of their outcomes, and that democracy is no exception. Others have argued that there are intrinsic reasons to believe that democracy is morally desirable independent of its consequences.

One way to measure the health of democracy is by looking at electoral competition and how stable a country’s political system is. In this respect the Global Democracy Index (GDIS) is a useful tool. The GDIS compares 167 countries to each other and ranks them on how democratic they are. The GDIS is produced by the German development agency and includes a range of indicators such as press freedom, civil liberties and political participation.

Another way to evaluate democracy is by considering the quality of a democracy’s decision making. A common epistemic justification for democracy is that it is more reliable than other methods of governing because it enables the exploitation of citizens’ underlying cognitive diversity to identify their interests and the causal mechanisms required to advance them. This argument has been advanced by John Dewey and others.

A further reason why democracy is a good thing is that it gives people the power to take part in decisions that affect them. This is particularly important when people face serious challenges, such as poverty or war. In a democratic society they can make their voices heard by putting pressure on politicians to address these issues.

Moreover, in a democratic society, people can discuss their views with other people, form interest groups and lobbying groups, or even gather together to protest against decisions that they disagree with. This right is guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR, article 20).

It is important to remember that no nation is born a democracy and that democracy is not a static institution. It is a process that requires sustained commitment and effort to sustain.

Finally, it is important to remember that no one can vote unless they are a citizen. As such, a nation cannot truly be described as a democracy until everyone can participate in the electoral process. This is an essential requirement of democracy that must be safeguarded against attempts to undermine it. To this end, some nations have created constitutional guarantees of citizenship.

The State of Democracy in America

democracy in america

The US democracy is in a state of crisis. Its decline is accelerated by its inherent problems, such as economic inequality and growing anti-government sentiment. It is also undermined by its internal political polarization and the erosion of the norms that govern behavior in democratic societies, such as self-restraint in the exercise of power and rejection of violence. According to a 2022 report by the Brookings Institution, American democracy is in serious danger of breaking down. Those who care about democracy in the world should take note of its current troubles.

American democracy is a de facto two-party system with ideological and demographic divisions that are deepening. A polarized political environment is destroying the traditional inter-party balance based on policy compromise. Instead, the Democrats and Republicans have become rivals, each fighting for a limited number of voters and a narrow base of ideology. The result is a fragmented society, a disunited Congress and a divided nation.

In addition, the political class in America is dominated by a small elite who control government agencies and policy-making, dominate the business community, manipulate public opinion, control the media and enjoy many privileges. This is a typical characteristic of authoritarian regimes that have replaced democratic ones in many parts of the world. The elites in America also control the political parties and manipulate the electoral process to their advantage. Ordinary citizens have no say in the decision-making processes that affect their lives and interests.

Despite these serious challenges, the US still has an important role to play in the international arena. It can undertake more international responsibilities and provide more public goods to the world. It can also make a positive contribution to the spread of democracy in the world.

For example, it can promote and support electoral democracy in other countries as a way to help people escape from dictatorships. It can also promote the concept of a rule-of-law foreign policy in the world, rather than using military force to install pro-US governments. However, it should not impose its own brand of democracy on other countries or use its values to divide the world into two camps of democracies and autocracies.

The United States should continue to promote democracy because people in democratic countries generally live better than those in nondemocracies. Compared to inhabitants of nondemocracies, those living in democracies enjoy greater personal freedom and political stability, less poverty and hunger, a higher quality of life and fewer risks of war.

Moreover, Americans can help to improve the lives of people in other countries by supporting a wide range of governmental and nongovernmental efforts to relieve hunger, poverty and disease. This can help to develop cosmopolitan ethical sentiments among the American population, making it more likely that they will accept some bonds of common humanity and feel an obligation to foreigners. Similarly, continued public concern about human rights violations in other countries and heightened awareness of the suffering of refugees are further evidence that the US has a responsibility to improve the lives of people all over the globe.

How to Live a Life of Freedom


Freedom is a word with as many definitions as there are people in the world. It can mean: the state of not being in prison or under the control of another person; a person’s power to act, think, believe, or gather as they wish; a political system that does not restrict people’s freedom of speech and assembly; a specific privilege or immunity enjoyed by someone; the ability to speak and express oneself freely without fear of repercussions; or the absence of slavery or oppression. Often, people view their freedom through the lens of one of these perspectives and sometimes all of them together.

In a philosophical sense, freedom is about being free to make choices that allow you to pursue happiness, virtue, or both. A common conception of freedom involves the idea that no external cause or constraint can influence the way you think. This can be taken too far and lead to dangerous anarchy, which is why freedom is a more complicated concept than simply being able to do whatever you want.

Philosophers are constantly debating the nature of freedom. For example, some people say that a person is not free to speak if their actions are restricted by the government, while others claim that a person is not fully free until they have the right to vote in elections. There are also many different ways to define what is or isn’t a constraint, such as whether a person’s behavior is based on internal motivations or external influences.

Regardless of how we define it, however, freedom is a powerful concept that can be difficult to achieve. There are many obstacles to overcome, such as self-discipline and the lack of clear goals. These obstacles can often be resolved by recognizing that everyone has some constraints and understanding how to balance them.

To truly live a life of freedom, it’s important to be aware of what you’re spending your time on and how that might affect your health and well-being. This is especially true when it comes to the digital world, where distractions are everywhere.

Thankfully, there are tools such as Freedom that can help you block distracting websites and apps so you can be more productive. The app is available for Mac, iOS, and Android devices and allows users to create custom blocklists or choose from pre-made ones in categories like social media or news sites. They can block websites and apps for a single session or schedule recurring blocks for times of the day when they’re most likely to be distracted. Try out a free trial of Freedom and get started blocking websites and apps that distract you. You may be surprised at how much more you can get done when the distractions are eliminated!

The Importance of Law

Law is the body of rules that creates a framework to ensure a peaceful society. These rules are enforceable by a state and penalties are put in place for people who violate them. Law can be found in the form of legislation passed by a legislative body or executive decree, through precedent established by judges, or as custom and policies deemed binding by a legal authority. The term law may also refer to the department of knowledge devoted to these rules, which is called jurisprudence.

The primary function of law is to define relationships, explain rights and obligations and regulate interaction between individuals and between people and businesses. As a result, it can be very complex and requires unique thinking skills that differ from those of other fields of study. Like learning a new language, law students must spend years learning the vocabulary, grammar, intonation and subtleties of a different system of thought.

While the principles of law are similar throughout the world, the application of law varies widely from country to country. Most countries have a dominant style of law based on the legal traditions of their ancestors. However, many nations are still struggling to establish stable and democratic governments. This is largely due to the fact that law reflects and is shaped by the political landscape, which can vary greatly from nation to nation.

As laws are a reflection of society, they must be constantly updated and adjusted to reflect new trends and challenges. For example, new technologies like cloning and genetic engineering present new legal issues that were not previously considered. It is the job of lawyers to keep abreast of these changes and make sure they are incorporated into existing laws.

There are numerous benefits of the rule of law in a modern society. Fair laws provide a starting point for the behaviors that are acceptable in a given society and ensure that all citizens have access to justice regardless of their wealth or social status. Furthermore, a well-functioning legal system provides an effective check on the power of government and ensures that people are treated fairly by the institutions that they interact with.

While there are many advantages of the rule of law, it is important to note that the law can also be abused by those who want to control societies and limit their freedoms. This is a major reason why the rule of law must be carefully guarded and defended by those in positions of authority. This includes ensuring that the right to protest, free speech and private ownership of property are protected by the law and that those in positions of authority act responsibly and without abuse of power. Without these safeguards, the benefits of the rule of law can be quickly eroded. To learn more about our legal services, contact us today! We can help you navigate the complexities of the law and defend your rights. We will fight to protect your best interests and achieve the results you deserve.

Democracy in Indonesia

Since its improbable emergence from authoritarian rule in 1998, Indonesia has been hailed as a rare example of democratic transition and persistence in an era of global democratic setbacks. The world’s fourth-largest democracy has a vibrant civil society, a flourishing print media, and competitive multiparty politics. The country’s citizens have participated in free and fair elections and have enjoyed several peaceful rotations of power.

This year, however, the country’s once-reviled institutions have been weakened by a series of policy missteps. Corruption remains rife, and many believe President Joko Widodo has been unwilling or incapable of taming the endemic graft. There is also widespread concern over the spread of religious intolerance and pockets of extremism. And the archipelago nation is facing serious climate challenges, including rising sea levels that threaten to submerge Jakarta under water.

In this tumultuous environment, the 2024 presidential election provides an important test for Indonesia’s democracy. In its latest report, the NDI ranks the country’s democracy as flawed. This assessment is based on four key indicators, all of which are related to democracy in practice.

First, the partisanship in the legislature is excessively strong. The number of legislative parties that belong to the governing coalition exceeds the minimum required for a functional majority in parliament. Consequently, the president’s ability to govern is constrained. Second, the electoral system is too fragmented. Its rules were designed through a process that took years, with parties carefully considering the implications of each amendment and bartering support for one change in exchange for support on another. The result is a legislature that is divided into a handful of ideological groups with little common ground.

Third, the purely utilitarian view of elections privileges bureaucratic efficiency over citizens’ rights. Despite being presented with a narrow bandwidth of candidate quality, Indonesian voters have shown that they can identify and punish non-performing leaders. This year, they voted out four of the ten incumbents running for reelection.

Finally, the public officials need to understand that they are not the enemy when their performances and actions are criticized by society. They should recognize that criticism as a way to improve their work and avoid being criminalized for defamation or hate speech. This is particularly important in a country that is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, particularly Article 19 which underscores freedom of opinion. This article requires that states guarantee that citizens have the right to freely express their opinions without fear of persecution or discrimination. This is the fundamental principle of democracy and it needs to be upheld at all levels. The future of Indonesia’s democracy depends on it.

What Is Democracy?

Democracy is a system of government that gives people the power to make laws and govern. There are many different forms of democracy, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. In general, democracy is a political system that encourages participation and openness. It is often associated with a free press and the rule of law. It is also associated with a limited amount of inequality in economic and social terms, and the protection of human rights.

The term “democracy” is derived from two Greek words: demos (people) and kratia (power or authority). How power is distributed within a democracy has changed over time. For example, direct democracy delegate authority directly to the people through referendums and other forms of popular input while representative democracy delegates authority to representatives elected by the people. In addition, there are different types of voting systems such as first-past-the-post or proportional representation and electoral systems such as plurality and majority vote.

Most democratic theorists argue that the moral case for democracy is strong. They point to several instrumental benefits that are attributed to democracy: better laws and policies and improvements in the characters of citizens. They also emphasize that a democracy, by its very nature, tends to lead to more just societies.

Some scholars have argued that democracy fosters freedom of expression, champions the rule of law, runs competitive elections and supports an independent media, which are all important for good governance. These arguments are based on the idea that, in democratic societies, people are able to challenge the status quo and develop unconventional ideas.

Moreover, they can experiment with ideas and implement them in ways that would be impossible under an authoritarian regime. The implication is that the development of these ideas and their implementation in democratic societies creates new opportunities, which in turn fuels economic growth. A good example is Silicon Valley, where innovation and creativity are fueled by the freedom of expression.

On the other hand, some argue that the democratic process is not always ideal and that a democracy may be less effective than alternative political institutions in some circumstances. They cite the risk of corruption, the emergence of special interests and biased reasoning among citizens as some problems associated with democracy. They also argue that democracy is an ideal only when the political system is genuinely pluralistic, allowing many competing voices to be heard and giving minority views a chance to be represented.

It is important to note that there is no single model of a democratic society and that different nations should have the liberty to choose their own political system. Nevertheless, most democratic theorists agree that it is a mistake to measure democratic success using a single yardstick and that the evaluation of democracy should take into account the context in which it is evaluated.

The most widely used measurement of democracy is the World Democracy Index (WDI), which is published by the Economist Intelligence Unit. WDI uses a variety of data to rank countries according to the quality and strength of their democracy. A country’s ranking can change over time as it improves or declines.

What Is Law?

The law is a system of rules that regulates the behavior of people and their interactions with one another. The rules are enforced by a controlling authority and can result in penalties if they are violated. Law is the basis of civilization and civility and gives society structure to govern its members.

Legal systems vary widely across the world. The United States employs a common law system, which is based on court decisions rather than statutes passed by the legislature. Other countries have codified laws, such as the Roman-derived civil law found in countries such as Japan.

A law can be a command or an injunction that must be obeyed, such as the speed limit or the traffic laws. A law can also be a principle that guides or controls human conduct, such as the laws of morality or the principles of natural justice. For example, the principle that a person must not lie is a law that must be obeyed.

The practice of law involves advising and representing individuals and businesses in their legal matters. It can be performed by lawyers, judges, or others with legal training. Lawyers must be licensed by the highest court of their jurisdiction to practice law.

Law is a complex subject with many different kinds of laws, such as criminal law, contract law, property law, and labor law. Each kind of law covers a specific area of human activity or human relations. For example, criminal law deals with the punishment of crimes and can be interpreted to include a variety of activities, such as fraud, larceny, and murder. Contract law, on the other hand, relates to the formation of contracts and the legal rights and duties of parties to such contracts. Property law encompasses the ownership of movable and immovable goods, including land, houses, vehicles, and personal possessions. It is governed by state and federal laws, as well as the common law.

One theory of law is that it has no inherent logical structure, but rather emerges through the felt necessities and the currents of social life. Other scholars, such as Hans Kelsen, believe that laws are based on the concept of the right and wrong. These theories are often used to explain how laws change over time.

The law is a dynamic and constantly changing phenomenon. It is influenced by a variety of factors, such as the currents of social life and of human relationships. For this reason, it is difficult to define in a simple way. There are, however, several areas of study that shed light on the nature of law. These include:

Democracy in Indonesia

Since the end of dictatorship in 1998, Indonesia has made impressive progress toward democracy. The country now enjoys political and media pluralism, multiple peaceful transfers of power, devolved government, and good-quality infrastructure, among other indicators. Nevertheless, significant challenges remain. These include systemic corruption, discrimination and violence against minority groups, conflict in Papua, and the politicized use of blasphemy laws.

These problems are rooted in the legacy of authoritarian regimes, the emergence of antipluralist and illiberal social forces, pervasive economic inequality, gross disparities in governance performance across the country, and a military that is stubbornly unwilling to cede full control of politics. At the same time, Indonesian politics have long been characterized by a patronage-based logic that incentivizes elite-level compromise and cooptation across ideological lines. One mechanism that tempers polarization is the ability of the president to build governing coalitions out of a fragmented legislature. Nonetheless, the size of these coalitions has become oversized in recent years, incentivizing legislative parties to collude with one another and minimize the effectiveness of the rump parliamentary opposition.

Electoral competition is also constrained by the dominance of old elites who can trace their fortunes back to the Suharto era and earlier, as well as by dynastic politics and electoral clientelism that distort representation and party polarization from local on up. Moreover, Indonesians are now exposed to an unprecedented amount of electioneering propaganda in the digital age. This new reality has heightened popular frustration over the electoral process, while reducing the likelihood that they will hold politicians accountable for their policies and practices once elected.

Indonesians deserve a political system that empowers them to make the best choices for their country, not a system that merely echoes the superficial appearance of democracy. To nurture a richer democratic space, the government should stop seeking validation from civil society organizations that agree with its policy positions and start welcoming active criticism of its own record and intentions.

The Indonesian government is threatening to change the rules of elections by shifting back to an indirect system for choosing regional executives, which it had originally introduced as part of a democratic transition meant to devolve governance and empower citizens. This purely utilitarian view of the role of elections privileges bureaucratic efficiency over citizens’ rights to choose their own leaders. It should instead defend the direct election of local executives, which is a hallmark of democracy in Indonesia and has enabled residents to identify and punish non-performing officials by voting them out. If the government is to nurture a true democracy, it should also act on the normative plans it has outlined in official documents and statements and commit to strengthening democracy outside of elections. If it fails to do so, the country will continue to stray from the path of democracy as practiced in other democracies.

Democracies – What Does it Mean to Live in a Democracy?

The word democracy comes from the Greek words demos (people) and kratos (power or rule). It is a system of government that relies on the people to make decisions and to provide feedback. Democracy thrives when citizens use their freedom to participate in civic life, whether it’s voting, protesting or taking part in other civic activities such as volunteering or activism. This participation ensures that the people’s views are reflected in decision-making and gives them power over their own lives.

However, democracy has its challenges. As the world faces rapid change, some people have doubts about the value of the popular vote and of democracy in general. Others feel that it is being threatened by the rise of populists and demagogues who threaten liberal values. And a growing number of people in the developed world are frustrated that their democratic institutions do not respond to their concerns about the environment, globalization and inequality.

A strong democracy requires compromise, cooperation and trust. It depends on a society that supports its members, protects their rights and provides them with opportunities to fulfil their potential. It needs an effective government that is transparent and accountable, and a well-functioning civil society that is active and reaches out to all groups, including the poorest and most excluded. It should also be built on a foundation of fair rules that govern behaviour and that are clear, widely understood and well enforced.

In the face of these challenges, democracy must be resilient and adaptable. It must be able to weather seismic shifts in public opinion and political trends, as well as changes in technology, demographics and culture. And it must be able to respond to crises by providing people with the tools and incentives to take control of their lives, their communities and their futures.

But how can we tell if a democracy is healthy? And what does it look like when it’s under threat? The answers are complex. But in the long run, a healthy democracy is defined by several fundamentals:

– People have freedom of speech and association, and can move and speak freely (as long as they don’t harm others). They have the right to choose who makes decisions for them, and the law must treat everyone equally and fairly.

– Opposing views are tolerated and respected, and people have the right to assemble and to petition their government. They can also be heard, and laws should be clearly written and enforceable.

As the Economist’s Democracy Index shows, many countries struggle to meet these criteria. In 2020, for example, most nations saw their score decline as they imposed lockdowns and other restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The exception was Taiwan, which jumped to 11th place after reforms in the judiciary. As a result, the average score for the world fell to its lowest level since 2006.