Indonesia: Saving Democracy

Indonesia’s elections will be a test for democratic progress. They are crucial in determining whether the transition began in 1999 after the overthrow of President Suharto can be saved. Parliamentary polling takes place this month and for the first time voters will directly elect their president and vice-president in July. But it is unclear whether this will produce capable national leaders to guide the country.

The World Today Updated 16 October 2020 Published 1 April 2004 3 minute READ

Budiman Sudjatmiko

Chairperson of the Democratic People's Party from 1996-2001

President Megawati Sukarnoputri came to prominence as leader of the opposition to President Suharto’s regime. The daughter of popular former President Sukarno, she has a special hold on people’s affection. But her leadership is now criticised by many for failing to meet expectations, which is widely believed to be growing rampantly in government bureaucracy, parliament and even legal institutions.

In February, parliament speaker Akbar Tandjung won a Supreme Court appeal against conviction for embezzlement of state funds. Tandjung is also chairman of the Golkar party, the main supporter of Suharto’s dictatorship for more than thirty years. His was the most prominent corruption trial and there is pessimism about the prospect of law enforcement as a result. Even though many have promised to respect the verdict, legal experts are examining it.

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