Democracy in Indonesia is threatened by recent events in neighboring countries such as Thailand and the Philippines. The two Southeast Asian countries are locked in a fierce struggle for political control, with each nation’s military dictatorship having control of large swaths of land. In fact, since Indonesian forces allied with those from the Philippines and Thailand invaded those countries in East Timor, has taken control of the whole island, except for South Timor. This has caused severe turmoil in South-East Asia, with thousands killed and displaced.
There has been a steady deterioration in the quality of life for the Indonesian people, who have become disillusioned by their own government’s inability to solve its massive political crisis. International human rights organizations have consistently called on the new leadership to end impunity and take firm steps towards democratic transition and free elections in Indonesia. The current chairperson of the UN General Assembly, Kofi Annan, has publicly stated that he believes that “the restoration of peace and stability in Indonesia will depend largely on the new government and the emergence of multiparty politics”.
The current situation is highly charged and dangerous, given the lack of a stable and inclusive political system. Although the Aceh (Indonesian name for East Java) Province was included within the former Aceh Peace and Order (PAO) in 1997, it is presently part of the West Java Province. Both provinces are rebellious regions with serious problems such as inadequate education, poverty and an ineffective judicial system. The new system of governance will be based on a participative proportional representation system, which will ensure fair and competitive national election. In this way, the people will be able to exercise their right to vote and choose leaders through a transparent and free election.
The transition to democracy in Indonesia will be facilitated by the establishment of a constitutional monarchy, rather than a constitutional republic, as was the case with the previous Aceh governments. This will enable the transition to democracy to proceed smoothly, and there will be a transfer of power from the military to a civilian office. A new constitution will be drafted and published to guide the constitutionality of the new democratic government. In addition, constitutional amendments will be incorporated to upgrade the protection of human rights and freedoms guaranteed by the universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international instruments.
The new constitution will also allocate seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate to the people living in each of the provincial and prefect areas. The president will be elected by the national assembly after being confirmed by the lower house. If the upper house finds that the president is unfit to lead, the vice president will act as president until a new vice president is elected. Jokowi was not sworn in as president until after his vice president had been chosen and was confirmed by the Senate.
For some analysts, the transition to democracy in Indonesia will be a smooth process with the new system of government providing the needed checks and balances to protect the citizens’ rights. There have been calls by some groups of Indonesian citizens for a revolution but most analysts agree that the chances of widespread social unrest are slim. The transition to democracy in Indonesia will be a slow, steady process, marked by transition, and yet again, transition.