Is Indonesia a Democracy?

Amid a wave of authoritarian regimes in the 1990s, Indonesia underwent reform that shifted political power from elites to voters and devolved governance. The change to direct regional elections, for example, has enabled local governments to build public trust by delivering good service and addressing local needs. It also has made it possible for many of today’s most popular politicians to emerge from the ranks of local government, where they can develop administrative skills and prove their competence to voters.

Direct regional elections haven’t necessarily proved more democratic than the indirect ballots used in long-standing democracies. Instead, they may have served as an entry point for new types of politicians who can appeal to voters by promising more efficient and effective governance. They can then use their success in local politics to make a name for themselves nationally and eventually rise to national prominence. Some of today’s most popular politicians in Indonesia, including President Jokowi, started their careers as regional executives.

Yet Indonesia has failed to meet many of the civil requirements that scholars deem essential for a democracy. The country has not guaranteed freedom of religion and does not protect civil rights or ensure judicial independence. The police are known to engage in arbitrary arrests, and a number of districts and provinces have ordinances that violate Indonesia’s international human rights commitments. There are also instances of corruption in the courts, and judicial decisions can be influenced by religious considerations.

Furthermore, while Indonesia has a vibrant and diverse media environment, the 2008 Law on Electronic Information and Transactions (known as UU ITE) extended criminal penalties for libel to online content and restricted journalists’ access to public records. It has also restricted freedom of expression through other means, including extending a law that bans the dissemination of communist symbols or propaganda to social media.

Indonesia’s failure to guarantee the full range of civil rights that scholars consider central to a democracy has contributed to the emergence of an instrumental view of democracy that emphasizes the value of political participation and good governance rather than the protection of individual liberty. While this approach has the advantage of focusing on concrete policy outcomes, it runs the risk of undermining the robust checks and balances that are necessary for democracy’s ultimate success.

In the end, the question of whether Indonesia is a democracy will be decided not just by the electoral process but by how well it delivers policies that improve people’s lives. The most important test will be how effectively the Indonesian government delivers on its promise of prosperity for all. Jokowi’s leadership is an encouraging sign that Indonesia is on the right track. But he will need to overcome the barriers that remain if Indonesia is to become what the author of this article calls a “reformed and consolidated” democracy.

What Is Democracy?

Democracy is a political system that relies on the free and informed consent of its citizens in order to govern. There are many different kinds of democratic systems in the world, from presidential and parliamentary democracies to mixed-electoral and proportional ones. Democracy is a global political ideal, and the international community has made it an important goal to promote and encourage democracy at the local and national levels.

A democracy allows the people to control the government by means of elections and referendums. It also ensures that the rights of citizens are protected by constitutionally established laws and conventions, and a legal system that complements the political structure. Democracy also offers opportunities for social progress and development that other forms of governing cannot provide.

All governments are vulnerable to exploitation by those who gain power, but democracy is less susceptible because the people can vote out those in charge and there are laws in place to limit the powers of elected officials. Unlike other governmental formations, a democratic system also enables citizens to communicate with government leaders directly through their elected representatives or the media.

In addition, the democratic structure allows for freedom of association, which gives citizens a right to discuss issues with each other, form interest groups and lobbying groups, and protest decisions they disagree with. This right is a fundamental element of democracy and is guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

A key part of democracy is the idea that all members of a society are equal and should be treated equally. This concept is often interpreted as the formal equality of one-person, one-vote in an election for members of parliament where there are competing candidates. However, there are many different ideas of what the concept of equality should mean in a democracy, and these ideas differ greatly from one society to another.

It is important for young people to become engaged in the political process at a local level, so that they have a say on the issues that affect them. This is not easy, but it can be rewarding. Many young people choose to do this by joining environmental or other protest groups that campaign against exploitation of the environment, war or child labour. This can help to foster a sense of patriotism and loyalty to their nation. It is also a good idea for young people to stay well informed about what is happening in the world, through the media or their own elected representatives, and make their opinions known, either by contacting their representatives or through other channels.

Building a Vision of a More Inclusive, Diverse America

democracy in america

As Americans grapple with the country’s democratic erosion, they face a complex moment that requires more than partisan activism. It will require building a new vision of America that offers space for people in all their contradictions and complexities. That new vision must offer them a place of dignity and power, while also countering the polarization, static identities, and competitive victimhood that is pushing many toward extremism. To build this vision, the prodemocracy community needs to invest in a range of arenas. It must bring together unlikely allies, including the right and left, racial minorities and law enforcement, young people and seniors, business owners and unions, religious institutions and immigrants, and so on. It must invest in intragroup and cross-group collaborations to build trust and a united, forward-looking vision. It must address the issue of police brutality, criminal justice reform, and poverty together rather than separately, as well as building a broad coalition against laws that shift voting power to more partisan bodies.

The challenge of building a vision of a more inclusive, diverse America that can hold its own in the world may seem overwhelming. But the future of democracy is at stake. Supporting democracy is in our national interest because democratically governed countries are more likely to secure open markets, promote economic development, uphold religious freedom and worker rights, defend American citizens abroad, prevent domestic terrorism, combat international crime and refugee flows, and help us achieve our environmental and military goals.

But if our efforts to protect democracy fail, we risk losing the world’s oldest and strongest example of democracy. Already, a new generation is growing up with a profoundly negative view of the U.S. government and a deep distrust of its institutions. That will set the stage for a serious democratic backslide, potentially as severe as the one that occurred in Hungary and India in recent years.

The asymmetrical erosion of democracy is challenging, but the United States can draw resilience from its age and consolidation. Moreover, the nation’s institutional guardrails are still in place, though many were written poorly and contain loopholes that can be exploited by antidemocratic politicians with safe seats. However, the system is fragile, and it must be bolstered with a step-change in strategy and support to ward off a democratic collapse. The future of our society depends on it.

2020 May Be the Year Humankind Gets It Right


The world has never faced such perilous challenges for freedom as it does today. The coronavirus pandemic and systemic racism have tested the concept of freedom like never before, and 2020 may prove to be the year that humankind finally gets it right.

The term “freedom” has many different meanings. It can be used to describe an action or an attribute of a person, such as their ability to freely express themselves or choose their own path in life. It can also refer to a state of being – the ability to live in peace without being constrained by government or society. The idea of freedom has been the inspiration for many great ideas and movements in history, from the American Revolution to the Four Freedoms of Franklin D. Roosevelt, which represented the rights and liberties for which allied nations fought in World War II.

Some people believe that there is a fundamental level of freedom innate in all human beings, something that they have to work hard to achieve or rediscover. They believe that the perfect expression of this freedom would be to have an unerring idea of what is good and the capacity to realize it, without experiencing any impairments to pursuing it. This kind of freedom could be experienced by a god or a Buddha, but for most people, it is only possible to approximate.

A more common understanding of freedom is that it has to do with choice. It is the ability to act as one desires, within a certain set of constraints. For example, one might not be free to break the law or steal property, but they might have freedom to freely choose their friends and what to wear.

In this sense, freedom is an essential ingredient for any system that wants to claim it is fair and just. For example, democracy is the only form of government that genuinely supports freedom, and its success depends on people having the ability to freely choose their leaders and policies.

This sense of freedom also lies behind the notion of freedom of speech and religion, and it is what people who have been incarcerated or enslaved hope to gain by escaping or revolting against their oppressors. The United Nations Secretary-General has spoken of the need to ensure that all humans have the freedoms outlined in the Declaration of Human Rights. These include freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of assembly, which protect the right to meet with others and collectively express opinions, pursue political interests or religious beliefs, without being subjected to any restrictions by government or private entities. The Declaration also recognizes the need for freedom from want, which includes the right to food, shelter and medical care. This freedom is the opposite of squalor and poverty, and it allows people to make choices that are in their own best interest. It is the most important freedom of all, and it is the key to a just and sustainable future for humanity.

The Meaning and Purpose of Law


Law is a term commonly used to describe the rules and principles that govern a society. Whether the law is written or not, it represents a set of guidelines that people must follow to stay within the boundaries of what is considered morally right and wrong. Some of these laws are formalized, whereas others are more informal. In some cases, people may even decide their own laws, or be a law unto themselves, which can be dangerous and lead to criminal charges.

The word “law” is also often used to refer to a person’s legal career or the practice of law. Zola had always dreamed of becoming a lawyer and worked hard to achieve her goal. However, some believe the profession is more vulnerable to economic shifts than other industries, and this was proven during the Great Recession when many firms reduced hiring or laid off staff.

Jurists have debated about the meaning and purpose of law, but most agree that it is an instrument for securing social justice. The concept of law has changed over time, with new ideas influencing how it is interpreted and applied.

Some theorists define law as a system of rules that binds citizens by specifying what is permitted and prohibited. Other theorists define law as a means to an end, and argue that the purpose of law is to protect and promote the interests of its citizens.

Other theorists define law in more general terms, describing it as the “order of society” or “the system of social control.” These theories are usually based on the idea that a just society requires law to maintain order and ensure justice.

A more functional definition of law, influenced by the work of Joel Feinberg and Stephen Darwall, emphasizes that rights are a natural product of a legal system that provides for duties to be respected and safeguarded. Feinberg and Darwall argue that rights function as claim-rights, and that these claims require correlative duties owed by the public to individual beneficiaries.

For example, the “law” that states that anything thrown up, unsuspended in space, must come down, is a law because it expresses an imposed consistent reality. When this reality ceases to be consistent, the enactment is no longer a law but a fact.

Another important consideration in defining law is that it must be enforceable. For example, the “law” that states a person who commits murder will be killed is an enforceable law because the consequences of breaking this law are clear and obvious to all. This feature of enforceable law is important to the legitimacy of a legal system. Without it, the system of law could be corrupted by the whims of individuals and groups. In addition, a legal system that relies on subjective judgments can be inflexible to changing social conditions and insensitive to the needs of its citizens. This would undermine the authority and effectiveness of the law. A well-functioning legal system therefore relies on enforceable rules rooted in historical precedent, inferred structural rules (power relationships between institutions, for instance), and judges’ independent, present-day moral reasoning.

Indonesian Democracy – The New Order and the New Electoral Democracy

democracy in indonesia

Amid rising economic hardship, Indonesians increasingly view democracy as a tool to improve their lives. This instrumentalist view of democracy explains the disconnect between low democratic ratings produced by international rating agencies and high levels of public satisfaction with government performance. Indonesia’s institutional strengths—particularly a robust civilian bureaucracy, independent courts and free and active media—can help roll back the illiberal currents that continue to flow from New Order civil-military relations and erode the country’s electoral democracy.

In a society marked by racial, ethnic and religious divisions and a history of communal and political conflicts, Sukarno sought to unite the country through a “co-operative” Nas-Agama-Kom or Nas-Akom-Kumuh (“Nationalism-Religion-Communism” or Nas-Kom) governmental concept. He envisioned blending secular nationalists, the Indonesian People’s Revolutionary Party (PKI), and Islamic groups into a co-operative coalition government, but he never achieved this goal. His administration was plagued by divisions and a series of cabinets fell apart, with only one lasting cabinet surviving for over two years.

Sukarno’s failure to achieve a stable state led to the rise of Soeharto, who consolidated power with military support and ruled as a dictator, even though Indonesia had been a democratic republic since 1945. Soeharto reformed many of the institutions of the state after 1965, but his reforms did not fully dismantle military and police influence in politics. Moreover, his attempt to impose a secular constitution on the country resulted in a wave of protests and violence by Indonesian Muslims in response to perceived discriminatory provisions in the document.

In the decade following Sukarno’s death, Indonesia underwent a painful transition to democracy, known as “reformasi” or “reform”. It was a time of restoring trust in key institutions and rolling back corruption. The New Order was replaced by an electoral democracy, but illiberal currents remained rooted in the country’s political culture and civil-military relations.

Today, Indonesia’s electoral democracy is strong, with elections broadly seen as fair and democratic management bodies generally seen as impartial. But the reform era vision of electoral democracy has given way to an instrumental logic, with elites safeguarding elections and presidential term limits not because they believe in these principles but because they provide convenient rules of the game for structuring elite competition and preventing potentially destabilising elite splits.

Institutional weaknesses remain, however. The judiciary has a poor reputation and police still engage in arbitrary arrests, particularly of protestors or those suspected of separatism. Freedom of religion is limited in practice, and Indonesian law reportedly permits coerced confessions in criminal cases. Property rights are protected in most areas, but indigenous communities and other groups have weaker rights to their land. Corruption is widespread, and due process of the law is often impeded by judicial delays. In addition, Indonesia’s repressive laws against speech and assembly have impacted minority communities. Overall, while Indonesia has made great strides in strengthening its democracy, it remains a work in progress. The consolidation of democracy in Indonesia requires strong civilian bureaucracies, independent courts and media, and an end to repressive policies.

Democracies and Democracy


Democracy is a form of government in which control over policy decisions is constitutionally vested in elected officials. These officials are chosen in frequent and fairly conducted elections, in which coercion is comparatively uncommon. Practically all adults have the right to vote in these elections, and citizens have a wide range of freedoms to express their views about political matters generally defined.

While democracy is celebrated as an advance over other systems of government, it does have some problems. Most importantly, it requires citizens to participate in democratic processes and engage in civic responsibility such as voting, activism, and public discourse. This participation is necessary if democracy is to succeed in making policies that reflect the interests and priorities of all people, rather than just a small group of the most powerful or wealthy people.

In order to do so, they need information about the issues facing their country and the policies that are proposed. They also need to understand how different policies might affect the lives of citizens, both now and in the future. Without sufficient knowledge and understanding, voters may make mistakes during election time that could have serious consequences for society as a whole.

Another problem is that in some countries, the process of democracy is not respected. For example, some countries have not had free elections in a long time, and the people’s voices are not heard by their leaders. This lack of respect is damaging to the legitimacy and effectiveness of democracy as a system of governance.

The fact that democracy is based on the consent of the governed makes it the most ethical and humane way to govern. As such, it should be promoted in all countries that have not already done so. The recent phenomenon of popular movements like the Arab Spring demonstrate that a higher level of citizen participation can take place even in countries that have not traditionally been considered democracies.

A final point to keep in mind is that democracy works best when it is accompanied by other democratic institutions, such as a free press and a wide variety of social and economic rights. When these other institutions are in place, democracy can function effectively as a mechanism for preventing dictatorship and promoting peace and prosperity throughout the world.

A good starting point for a discussion on democracy is the Student backgrounder – Democracy (Appendix B). Once students have a definition of democracy in place, they can then work in small groups to evaluate the ways their classroom and school model democratic principles by using the Teacher resource – Democracy report card sample in Appendix G. Students can then write their evaluations and rationales for their thinking. This is a great way to help students to become active citizens and take responsibility for the health of their own community. This activity can be used in any grade level. It is particularly useful for students who are preparing to enter high school or university.

Democracy in America Must Take a Good Look at Itself

Amid a global struggle for democracy, America must take a good look at itself before it can serve as a model for others. But, as a recent Stanford News report points out, if American democracy doesn’t address its flaws, the country risks losing credibility to those around the world struggling to achieve it.

The US needs to start with a new vision for democracy, one that goes beyond a system of elections and legislation. Instead, it must also focus on improving society’s fundamentals—address racial injustice, inequality, the economy and social services like education and health care. This will require more than partisan, get-out-the-vote messaging that deepens America’s divisions and entices Americans to turn to authoritarian solutions.

In a democracy, power should be balanced by an independent judiciary and the people’s right to protest and speak freely. But, in the US, political infighting, money politics and a corrosive culture of resentment have undermined these basic components of democracy. As a result, only 57% of Americans say democracy works well in their country, and only 19% say it does very well.

It is essential for Americans who value democracy, including elected officials who have sworn to uphold the constitution, to address the polarization, skepticism and distrust that is weakening public institutions. It is also important for philanthropists to speak up if the organizations they fund support a hierarchical image of the community with static, unchanging, thin identities—even if these images turn traditional hierarchy on its head.

The US must work with other nations that share democratic values to promote a global framework for democracy. But, in the meantime, it should not try to dictate standards or impose its own version of democracy on other countries, or use democracy as a tool to suppress them. When all countries are free to choose their own form of government, and when democracy is defended by people who understand it as a dynamic force for social change, the world will be a better place.

Amid today’s acute threats, it is crucial to invest in a new vision of democracy that will inspire Americans to fight for their freedom and the freedom of others. The US must reclaim its role as a leader in the struggle for democracy worldwide, and that will not happen until the nation addresses its internal problems—including corruption, cronyism, inequality and social injustice—in order to truly defend democracy. The future of the world, and our very own, depends on it.

Focus on Your Goals With the Freedom App


Freedom is the ennobling quality that allows people to be the best versions of themselves. It is not just something that can be measured with a vote or walking out of prison; it can also be found in many things, such as the ability to choose one’s work, where one lives, and what they believe. Freedom is a human right that should be protected by society.

However, true freedom is not simply the freedom to do whatever one wants – this would be dangerously close to complete anarchy. Rather, it is a more complicated idea that includes being able to do whatever you want, but only until you start to hurt others. Freedom is shaped by the ‘horizontal duties’ that each person owes to other individuals and the community as a whole (Knox, 2018). If a person’s choice will cause harm to other members of their society, it is their duty not to do it.

In this context, freedom means that each person is free to pursue their own goals while respecting the rights and responsibilities of others. This is the foundation of any successful democratic society. However, it is a concept that is easily distorted, which is why it needs constant vigilance.

A person who does not have a good sense of what is important in life may lose sight of the value of freedom and be consumed by a desire for gratification and pleasure. The only way to avoid this is to focus on the goal of being a good person, which requires self-control and restraint.

For people who struggle with these problems, there are a few tools they can use to help them stay focused and productive. One of these tools is the Freedom app, which helps users block distracting websites and apps on their computers or mobile devices so they can concentrate on their work.

To set up a blocking session with the Freedom app, you can either use their pre-defined list of common distractions such as news or social media, or create your own custom list of sites you find particularly distracting. Then, select the start date and time for your block to begin and choose which devices it will apply to. Once it is activated, the website and app blocks will be in place until the end of the blocked period.

The Freedom app is available for desktop computers running Windows and macOS, as well as mobile devices running Android and iOS. It is easy to install and works quickly once it has been configured. It will run in the background so you can still access all your other apps and features, but it will prevent you from accessing websites and apps that you have blocked until your block session ends.

Although the Freedom app is paid, it comes with a generous seven-use trial that gives you seven free blocking sessions. These are enough to give you an idea of whether or not the tool is worth the price. You can then decide to either pay on a monthly basis, or purchase the annual plan and save around 30%.

What Is Law?


The law is a set of rules created by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. Its precise definition is a longstanding subject of debate. The law serves several purposes, including establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes and protecting liberties and rights. The legal system also provides a means to punish those who do not obey the law.

The most important purpose of law is to establish and enforce standards of behaviour, such as respect for other people’s property, privacy, freedoms and liberty. This includes ensuring that public officials, such as police officers and government workers, are accountable to the law and must act fairly in their dealings with citizens. It is vital to a well-ordered society, providing a level playing field for everyone and enabling people to resolve their differences peacefully.

Law can be divided into two types: public law and private law. Public law governs all actions of the government and its agencies, while private laws govern the conduct of individuals and businesses. For example, a private citizen can sue a business over a contract breach, but the government cannot sue a private citizen for violating the criminal code. The law also protects the health and safety of citizens, ensuring that food, water and air are safe for them to consume and to breathe.

Normative justification is an aspect of law that determines the validity of legal norms, such as the notion of a right to a good name or the enumeration of a set of legal powers and immunities. Justification involves a comparison of the normative claims of a particular right with those of other legal norms. The stronger the legal justification, the more valid the claim.

A common theory of the function of rights is called the Interest Theory, arguing that legal norms such as privileges, powers and immunities serve to protect or further the interests of those who hold them. It is important to note that, unlike the Will Theory, this view does not require that a right-holder have an active choice about whether to exercise the right or not.

Rights are sometimes granted without correlating duties (as is the case with most civil rights, such as the right to sue for defamation). These are often referred to as ‘claim-rights’ or ‘demand-rights’. Joel Feinberg and Stephen Darwall are among the most prominent defenders of a different theory of the function of rights, focusing on the capacity or power of claim-holders to demand or exercise their rights.

To become a law in the United States, a bill must be passed by both houses of Congress (the Senate and House of Representatives), signed by the presiding officers of each chamber, and sent to the President for signature. If the President decides not to sign a bill into law, it is known as a veto and the bill will return to Congress. At this point, the House of Representatives and Senate can override the President’s veto with a two-thirds majority vote.