Indonesia’s political system is an open political system. There has been free and fair elections that were contested by multiple parties and there has been decentralization of power away from Jakarta that has resulted in local elections to choose local leaders. There is Freedom of press to criticize government, Freedom of Association, Existence of civil societies.
One key element of Indonesia’s transition to democratic regime is the decentralization of power, seeing the transfer of political, fiscal and administrative powers to sub-national governments. In theory and real life, this has provided an opportunity for citizens to have greater control over decisions that directly affects their lives.However, it would be wrong to adjudged that decentralization automatically means full democracy, because along with the decentralization of power has come with some unintended consequences or aftermath such as increased opportunities for patronage, corruption and continued influence from the military. Though there is strong efforts at the national level to curtail corruption and the dominance of the military, it has less effect on the local level and also there is a high degree of unaccountability at the local level, misplace rule of law and social justice.(Freedman and Tiburzi:2012). The essay seeks to analyse the nature and performance of Indonesia’s new democracy and the inherent factors undermining it.
Freedman and Tiburzi further highlight four critical problems facing Indonesia’s democracy namely; corruption, minority rights, the role of the military and questions about the tenacity of militant Islamic groups.
Corruption is one of the most significant problems plaguing Indonesia today. Corruption is manifest in many ways. Corruption has eaten deeply into the Indonesia system, though measures are being undertaken to reduce the rate of corruption at the national level, but there are still high level of corruption at the local level. As Freedman made clear, decentralization has not necessarily resulted in greater local accountability, but has instead empowered old elites to engage in all sorts of extortion and rapacious behaviour to further power aims of local political alliances and patronage networks.
While overt terrorist activity from radical Muslim groups has diminished, it is clear that radical elements have been able to influence government policy inn other ways. By developing contacts in the bureaucracy and using interest group advocacy techniques religious hardliners seem to be able to flex their muscle without resorting to terrorism. The issue of Islamic radicalism is intertwined with the problem of minority rights. The government has had little success in tackling overt acts of terror and there is lack of efforts at grassroots level to handle such issues.
Under Suharto, the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) had a dual function (dwifungsi) that allowed it to have a foothold within local level of policy implementation. The practice of dwifungsi led to the military taking a prominent role in politics, the economy, and in handling internal insurgencies. The role of the military reduced in post-Suharto administration and there was division between the police and the efforts in internal and external protection. All these measures was to reduce the military’s involvement in politics and decision –making,however,the military still exerts significant influence because of the way the system is being structured.
Over the last ten years in Indonesia, there has been an increase in religious identification and practice, although this should not be equated with radicalization. There are a large number of Islamic political parties, and they span a wide spectrum of beliefs and interests. The timidity to confront militant groups is a big challenge for the government.
Nature of Indonesia’s