Indonesia has emerged as one of the most vibrant democracies in Asia. Its successful transition from authoritarian governance began in 1998 and has been strengthened by free and competitive elections, a rise in the influence of regional centers as a result of decentralization, and the first peaceful transition of power in Indonesia with the election of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2004.
Democracy in Indonesia is a promising experiment that should be seen as a model for other countries facing the challenges of transitioning to democratization. However, there are some significant problems with the current democratic system in Indonesia that must be addressed if it is to survive and thrive.
The challenge of democratizing economic systems
Indonesian democracy has made progress in the political and legal areas, but some aspects of economic governance still pose a serious threat to democratic development. For example, corruption and inequalities in the distribution of land and natural resources between a narrow group of wealthy elites and the mass lower-income classes are preventing effective economic democracy.
Various mechanisms of economic democracy, including the creation of a regional minimum wage policy and regulations on corporate integrity, can help to reduce this inequity. The issue of promoting transparency also requires attention.
Civil society organisations have played an important role in defending human rights, exposing corruption and ensuring fair media coverage. In addition, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have sprung up to monitor government behavior and hold politicians accountable for their actions.
The problem of corruption in Indonesia is a major concern for both the government and the public at large. This is particularly true for the financial sector, where bribes and other forms of corruption are often the norm.
In the context of Indonesian politics, this is a matter of great concern because it threatens the very survival of democratic institutions. It is not the only problem, but it does represent a particularly critical factor in the failure of democracy to achieve its full potential.
This is why it is important to examine and analyze the various structures of corruption and bribery. If these are to be effectively countered, then a new and more sophisticated approach is needed.
Moreover, the Indonesian legal and regulatory frameworks should be more extensive to provide for better oversight of corruption and business behaviour. This should include the creation of an independent anti-corruption commission.
Another important aspect of this is to improve the integrity of Indonesian companies and markets by introducing rules on disclosure, accounting, and reporting. This can lead to greater trust in companies and increase investment in them.
A third dimension of this is to strengthen the independence and accountability of state agencies, such as the police. If this can be done, then the problems faced by Indonesian society and political leaders will be much reduced.
The most critical challenges that confront Indonesia’s democracy are the erosion of free and fair elections, the decline in civil liberties, the weakness of legislative checks, and the increasing role of the armed forces in civilian affairs. All of these issues are a threat to democracy and must be urgently addressed if Indonesia is to remain a credible, sustainable, and vibrant democracy.