Developing Democracy Through Power Sharing

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Since its democratic transition in 1998, Indonesia has continued its process of consolidating democracy through power sharing by further strengthening its political institutions and making progress in combating corruption (“Indonesia in 2008” 105). Especially, the direct elections of parliament members, president, and vice president have increased the effectiveness and competitiveness of Indonesia’s electoral democracy. Since 2008, the election law required that parties that win a seat in the parliament had to hand this mandate to the nominee with the highest number of votes (“Indonesia in 2008” 107). This has forced nominees to campaign much harder in the grassroot level in order to get more votes. In 2009 DPR election, many politicians who had “previously won their seats through backroom negotiations in Jakarta,” (“Indonesia in 2008” 107) had spent more time in their districts and provinces. With this law, the voters were able to build closer relationship with their candidates. Moreover, in 2008, the political elites have also applied a parliamentary threshold of 2.5 percent for the 2009 elections (“Indonesia in 2008” 107), though in 2012, this threshold was increased to 3.5 percent. This has made party system more effective as the parties are required to have a nationwide presence by representing diverse ethnic and religious groups. More candidates had been required to represent their constituents and advance their party positions and political ideologies. Not only that, the parliamentary threshold has also made parliamentary proceedings more effective as they do not have to rely on the narrow interests of small parties. In 2009, the election law also required parties had to get 20 percent of the seats or 25 percent of the vote... ... middle of paper ... ... represent and compete for their constituents and political ideologies. The cross-party coalitions made parties to lack meaningful platforms as well, as they built grand coalitions that encompass their own platforms and ideologies. Moreover, political patronage and corrupt deal-making between politicians and business people have reinforced money politics (“The Irony of Success” 27), exacerbating the country’s corruption problem. The direction of Indonesian democracy has proven to serve the interests of the powerful elites and not the general public, which decreased the country’s democratic quality (“The Irony of Success” 22). In the next sections, I will elaborate more on how promiscuous power sharing has undermined the country’s democratization by only allowing the major party elites to share power among themselves through flexible cross-cleavage coalition building.

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