ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

Stagnation or Transformation in Indonesia?

Stagnation or Transformation in Indonesia?

In October, Joko Widodo, or "Jokowi", campaigning on a populist pro-democracy platform, became the new president of Indonesia after a bitter election campaign against oligarch Prabowo Subianto, a former military officer who was supported by elements of the former Suharto regime. Jokowi's victory illustrates both the real achievements and the profound limits of Indonesian democracy. Fortunately, it also highlights possibilities for substantive reform.

Indonesia is regularly hailed as a showcase “new democracy” – an all too rare democratic success story from the post-1970s Global South (Diamond 2010; Horowitz 2013). Conditions there were far from ideal for the emergence of a liberal democratic regime. But despite a background of more than three decades of harsh dictatorship and even a massacre of leftists, endemic corruption, capitalist growth based on the extraction of resources and dizzying inequalities, the post-Suharto order has not collapsed. Indeed, Indonesia is the freest country in south-east Asia, and has managed to combine vibrant elections with political stability and sustained economic growth.

In mid-October Joko Widodo, known popularly as “Jokowi”, was inaugurated as new president after a bitterly contested campaign against super rich oligarch Prabowo Subianto, a former Special Forces General and son-in-law of Suharto. A modest local businessman, country town mayor and then governor of Jakarta, Jokowi’s populist pro-democracy platform saw him to a narrow win. His victory illustrates both the real achievements and the profound limits of Indonesian democracy; fortunately, it also highlights possibilities for substantive reform.

Dear reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top