Power and Political Culture in Suharto's Indonesia: The Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) and Decline of the New Order (1986-98)

Power and Political Culture in Suharto's Indonesia: The Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) and Decline of the New Order (1986-98)

Power and Political Culture in Suharto's Indonesia: The Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) and Decline of the New Order (1986-98)

Power and Political Culture in Suharto's Indonesia: The Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) and Decline of the New Order (1986-98)

Synopsis

Under Indonesia's authoritarian New Order regime, the continued existence of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) was meant to demonstrate the ostensibly democratic character of the regime. From the late 1980s, however, the PDI became more openly critical of government policies; in 1996 its popular leader was removed, a move that significantly damaged the popular legitimacy of the regime. Against this background, and looking at the PDI as a key political institution, this book assesses broader questions of political culture, political participation, regime maintenance, and opposition in the late Suharto era.

Excerpt

When in the mid-1990s I first started work on the doctoral thesis which is the origin of this book, Indonesia and its political life were enigmas to me, as well as sources of great fascination. Although I had already travelled for several months on different occasions in the country and even begun to put together my first sentences in Indonesian, the country's apparent political stability, paired with its exotic culture and history, indicated to me the existence of a fundamentally different political culture which, I believed, could only be understood through unique indigenous Indonesian models of explanation.

However, as I learnt more about the country over the years-through reading, travelling and talking to people-it felt as if the veils of mystery gradually were lifted and my fascination over the more exotic qualities of Indonesian politics and society gave way to an intellectual interest in the more mundane aspects of the country's contemporary development. Although, as Mohammad Hatta once reputedly said, only someone who does not understand Indonesian politics would claim to fully understand it, I felt that, gradually, Indonesian politics became more explainable and understandable- and also less mysteriously fascinating. The process was at times painful, both because of the hardships and upheavals Indonesia went through as I was working on my study in the second half of the 1990s, and because I was forced to reassess my sometimes mistakenly romantic understanding of Indonesian culture and society.

Many people have contributed in various ways to the preparation of the present book. Throughout most of my time as a doctoral student at the Department of History at Lund University, I have been fortunate to have two supervisors, both of whom I would like to thank in particular. Professor Eva Österberg of the Department of History has been my main supervisor. Eva has been a tremendous source of support and encouragement, even though my research subject-chronologically and geographically-is far from Eva's own field of expertise. The fact that Eva, without hesitation, supported my research in such

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