Democracy in Indonesia

Democracy in indonesia

Amid an economic slump and social conflict, Indonesia has been trying to build democratic institutions that will allow citizens to shape government policy. Despite these challenges, the country has maintained free and fair elections, and its leaders are elected through a majority vote in parliament and by direct ballot for the presidency. The country has also taken steps to strengthen the independence of electoral commissions and to promote transparency in campaign financing.

The country’s new constitution also provides for a supreme court, ombudsman and human rights commission. However, these institutions lack sufficient resources and capacity. The country faces significant problems in addressing corruption and impunity and in providing effective justice services to its citizens. In addition, the state’s control of natural resources and the military’s role in politics undermine the rule of law.

Indonesia’s constitutional system vests substantial power in the president, who is aided by a vice president and cabinet. The executive branch has veto power over legislation, and the military retains considerable influence in the economy and society through its companies and patronage networks.

In the 2019 presidential election, Joko Widodo of the Democrat Party of Struggle (PDI-P) won with 55.5 percent of the votes against his rival from the Great Indonesia Movement party, former general Prabowo Subianto. The PDI-P and its allies dominate the national legislature, the People’s Representative Council (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat; MPR).

The government’s commitment to democratic consolidation has been explicit since 2005. It has designated specific bodies to plan and evaluate the progress of the country’s democratic development, and it regularly publishes a ranking of the quality of its democracy. Its approach, however, has tended to be narrow, focused on elections and bureaucratic reform. To sustain a democracy, it takes more than just elections and institutional reforms. It requires a “democratic habituation” that goes beyond the boundaries of polling booths and parliamentary halls.

The country has a relatively free press and the freedom to organize political parties, but the political system still favors large parties by placing restrictions on party registration and funding. In addition, there are limits on the freedom to practice religion, and people who are atheists or not of one of the country’s official faiths can face discrimination. Finally, civil rights and gender equality remain problematic.