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Jakarta Post

From irony of success to tragedy of failure

  • Olle Törnquist

    Kungshamn, Sweden

Kungshamn, Sweden   /   Fri, October 30 2020   /  01:00 am
University students hold a banner while resting on a main road to protest against the government's proposed labour reforms in a controversial (Reuters/Willy Kurniawan)

Why has democratic development derailed in Indonesia, and can it be revived? During a decade and a half after democrats made Soeharto step down and rulers put on new cloths, mainstream scholars like David Horowitz and Larry Diamond dubbed Indonesia a showcase of liberal democratization. Edward Aspinall certainly cautioned that the “the irony of success” was that the elites had adjusted to new freedoms and democratic institutions in return for the containment of popular movements. But the expectation remained that, since the elites adjusted to the new rules of the game, they would also, gradually, build better parties, reduce corruption and respect the rule of law and human rights. Actually, it was clear already since 2004 that this expectation did not materialize and that the main reason (according to Indonesian Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (Demos) and later on...