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Jakarta Post

Indonesia, once regional model, falls further behind Malaysia in democracy rankings

  • Karina M. Tehusijarana
    Karina M. Tehusijarana

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, January 22, 2020   /   02:50 pm
Indonesia, once regional model, falls further behind Malaysia in democracy rankings Students protest against the planned revision of the Criminal Code and the revision of the Corruption Eradication Commission Law in front of the House of Representatives building in Senayan, Jakarta on Sept. 24, 2019, marking the biggest student movement since 1998. (JP/Anggie Angela)

The Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) recently released annual democracy index shows Indonesia's democracy has yet to climb out of its funk, even as neighboring Malaysia experiences a democratic resurgence.

The index, which is scored on a scale of zero to 10, is based on five indicators: electoral process and pluralism, functioning of government, political participation, political culture and civil liberties. 

The 2019 index puts Indonesia in 64th position out of 167 countries with a score of 6.48. The score is a slight improvement from 2017's and 2018's 6.39, but is still the country's second-lowest score of the decade. 

Malaysia, meanwhile, has continued its climb up to 43rd position with a score of 7.16, higher than Indonesia has ever managed. The archipelago recorded its highest score of 7.03 in 2015, following President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's first presidential election win.



The marked improvement in the quality of democracy in Malaysia comes following the ousting of long-time ruling party United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) in the 2018 general election. The EIU's 2018 Democracy Index report cited Malaysia as a "bright spot" amid declining democracies elsewhere in the region.

Meanwhile, Indonesia fell 20 places in the 2017 index, making it the worst performer among the countries surveyed that year. The EIU’s report on the index cited the electoral defeat and blasphemy conviction of former Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama as one the major indicators of Indonesia’s decline, saying that it highlighted “uncomfortable truths about minority rights” in Indonesia. 

In the most recent report, the EIU highlighted the proposal floated by some politicians, as well as Home Minister Tito Karnavian, to abolish direct elections in Indonesia.

"Such a regressive step would weaken the country’s electoral system, replacing the current competitive, high-turnout elections with an opaque procedure," the report said.