Academic journal article Southeast Asian Affairs

INDONESIA: Democratization and the Threat of Disintegration

Academic journal article Southeast Asian Affairs

INDONESIA: Democratization and the Threat of Disintegration

Article excerpt

Harold Crouch1

Indonesia's political transformation continued during 1999 and culminated in the October election of Abdurrahman Wahid --- usually known as Gus Dur --- as the country's fourth president. In contrast to Indonesia's first two presidents who were always "elected" unanimously and the third who, as vice-president, acceded to the presidency on the resignation of his predecessor, President Abdurrahman won office in a competitive and constitutional process, the outcome of which was in doubt until the last votes were counted. Indonesia's political system still fell short of ideal democratic standards but its progress towards democratization had been enormous.

Indonesia's democratic transformation proceeded in extraordinarily difficult circumstances. The economy, which had been devastated by the Asian financial crisis in 1997, remained in deep recession as investors waited for political uncertainties to be resolved. Economic disruption brought great suffering to much of the population and contributed to regular outbreaks of social conflict, including severe ethnic and religious clashes, in various parts of the country. Long-standing separatist demands in Aceh and Irian Jaya gained increasing popular support and East Timor won its independence following a U. …

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