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

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Indonesia: The Day After


Time moves swiftly in Indonesia. Just two years ago, the     Asian crisis put an end to authoritarian development and the hallelujah choir fell silent. The dominant west was as bewildered as the oppressed opposition was weak. Six months later, the students instead ensured that Suharto was deposed and that most agreed that democracy was the only solution. The military was weakened. The monopolists were shaken. Ordinary people demanded those responsible to be held accountable. With the June elections this year, democracy was born. But now the party is over and the day after is already here.

Suharto's 'new order' has been replaced by Gus Dur's 'pact order'. The people voted their protest and won the election, but the elite horse-traded their stakes and won the presidency. All the important groups – including the military, the former ruling Golkar Party and the conservative Muslims – are part of the new government. The genuine democrats are essentially marginalised or else free to pursue their private projects in civil society. So who has the time and the inclination to develop political democracy? Even the west lost interest as soon as the election was over.

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