The first question many people have when it comes to determining whether democracy in Indonesia is working is: how does one go about voting? The political landscape in Indonesia has drastically changed since Yudhoyono’s era, and the old Islamic-pluralist divide has been exacerbated, most recently amid the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some answers to these questions. And what do you think?
The Indonesian Constitution, enacted in 1945, made the president head of both state and government. This structure was more appropriate for implementing Guided democracy. But after the transition in 1998, the role of the president was diminished to that of a regional executive. Although this reduced the role of the president, Sukarno still had moral authority as the Father of the Nation. The resulting uncertainty about Indonesia’s future has made many question the success of its democracy.
A few decades of repressive rule marked the transition from liberal democracy to parliamentary government. During this period, Indonesia had six different cabinets, with the longest one lasting just under two years. Although these governments were elected, the first national elections did not bring any political stability. Prime Minister Ali Sastroamidjojo returned the mandate to the president on 14 March. However, the political environment in Indonesia has improved substantially since then.
The PKI used this issue to cement its alliance with Sukarno. Sukarno blocked Nasution’s attempt to become the head of the armed forces. Instead, Nasution remained the minister of defence and security. So, despite these differences, the PKI was able to maintain a majority in the new government. If you want to get more details about how Indonesia’s democracy works, check out this article.
The Indonesian military has largely avoided international oversight of crimes committed in its conflict zones. For many years, this is because the military was funded by rent-seeking relationships with multinational and national enterprises. The Indonesian military has also remained a permanent presence in the country’s villages, which has made it difficult for it to monitor human rights abuses in the region. A recent report from the World Bank suggests that Indonesia’s democratic process is far from perfect.
While the transition to democracy in Indonesia is not a linear process, it is important to remember that the challenges are not new. The country’s multi-ethnic and religious makeup makes it difficult to gauge the progress of democracy. While academics and human rights activists may be right to raise alarm over backward steps under Jokowi, Indonesians must also take into account its history, which complicates the transition from authoritarianism to democracy.
Indonesia’s Islamic-pluralist split has deep roots. Even before independence, political movements mobilized on opposite sides. Proponents of political Islam advocate a greater role for Islam, while pluralists advocate a more secular state and laws to protect religious minorities. Indonesia’s constitution does not mention Islam, though it does outline the belief in a single God as one of its founding principles. However, the Communist Party of Indonesia has consistently resisted calls for a separate political party and is a prominent party in the country.