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Democratic Indonesia as a Role Model?

In a meeting with the House Democracy Partnership Committee of Congress (USA) led by David Dreier on February 23, 2011, Vice Chairman of the House of Representatives of the Golkar Party, Priyo Budi Santoso, said that democracy in Indonesia is one of the best democratic system in the world and deserve to be a role model for other countries.

Priyo also confidently say that the implementation of democracy in Indonesia in some ways better than the implementation of democracy in the U.S.. If the first U.S. democracy serve as a role model for Indonesia in developing democracy in post-reform transition 12 years ago, now Indonesia could be proud because of democracy in Indonesia has grown better than American democracy.

One indicator, said Priyo, is in the direct presidential election. If Indonesia has begun a direct presidential election since 2004, the United States until now it still adhered to the Electoral Votes in choosing a president. Electoral votes is a system of presidential elections in the U.S. who use pattern representatives (electors) who has a mandate to represent the American people in choosing them and the number of presidential electors in each state varies depending on the number of residents.

Here Priyo seems too simplistic meaning of democracy, because the only measure of a direct election system. Yet contemporary political science literature to explain the meaning of democracy more broadly that is not only measured by one indicator alone, such as direct elections.

This brief article will examine the content and level of democracy in Indonesia by using contemporary political science literature, and from there we will know whether Indonesia’s democracy can be said to be well established and deserve sebagai role model for other countries.


Contemporary political science literature distinguishes two types of democracy, the first is well-established democracies (NDM) and the second type is a country that was heading for democracy (NSMD). Both types of democracy can be used as indicators to assess progress or failure of a democracy.

NDM is the state government’s policy, both domestic policy or foreign policy, prepared by officials chosen through direct elections-free-public-secret (overflow) and honest-fair (JURDIL) and carried out periodically. Prerequisites for the implementation of direct elections are overflowing and JURDIL is the presence of freedom of speech, the presence of freedom of association to compete in elections, and equitable representation of diverse views in the mass media.

Meanwhile NSDM is a country that has not fully meet the conditions contained in kriteraia NDM. For example, the Czech Republic and Yugoslavia in the early 1990s is the type of NSDM. Although the two countries have conducted elections in overflow and JURDIL, but civil liberties in the opinion is still restrained by the government.

The question is when NSDM can be NDM? Juan Linz and Alfred Stepan (1996) replied that NSDM can be NDM is when a country has twice done the turn of power (two turnover rule) for the mark has been the consolidation of democracy. Considered a consolidated democracy if power has changed hands twice through the electoral process which overflow and fair. Linz and Stepan also explained that a consolidated democracy is when he is the only game in town. That means there is no way for political parties or groups for the ruling other than to win the general election overflow and fair.

According to Freedom House, if NSDM want to get categorized as NDM, the country must have a solid institutional and legal, which is competitive politics, elections are fixed, wide public participation, restrictions on executive power, freedom of speech, and respect for civil liberties including the freedom of minorities.

All the criteria mentioned above as well as Linz and Stepan Freedom House is an indicator to explain the basic standards of a state in order to become NDM.

What about Indonesia?

Indonesia has implemented more or less contained in the category prerequisite NDM. Indonesia has implemented the elections system overflow and JURDIL; broad public participation, freedom of speech also began to grow; mass media no longer is bound like the days of New Order, and the peaceful consolidation of democracy has changed hands more than twice (3 times), accounting for transfer of power from the era Gusdur, Megawati and SBY. For it is only natural that Indonesia entered as established democracies (NDM), third after the United States and India.

However, Indonesia also still have homework still to be solved by democracy. We all know, there are wounds to be healed by a democracy, such as cases of violence against the minority Ahmadiyah faith and corrupt practices that continue to undermine the nation’s wealth.

In cases of violence against Ahmadiyah, Indonesia is considered to have failed in providing space for religious freedom for minorities. Since the government issued a Joint Decree (SKB) in 2008 on Ahmadiyah, violence against the Ahmadiyya increases. In addition, the LCS also has restricted the activities of the Ahmadis in several provinces of Indonesia.

In the context of established democracies, restrictions on the activities of the Ahmadiyah is obviously a setback, because what is done by the Indonesian government through its LCS discriminate against minorities and instead resolve the issue and this is one of the sins of democracy that must be eliminated.

Similarly to the case of corruption. Based on data from Transparency International’s ranking of 2010, Indonesia was ranked 110th in the corruption perception index, from 200 countries around the world.

Yap Swee Seng, Executive Director, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, judging that the corruption perception index that is one of the challenges in the life of democracy in countries located in Asia, including Indonesia therein.

According to Yap corruption that occurred in Asia (including Indonesia) are usually performed by the executive, the form is not only a form of dredging money for personal interests, but also may take the form of power abuse. At the legislative level, the budget process that created these institutions are also considered to be transparent because it does not involve civil society in the formulation.

We should be proud if Indonesia is categorized as NDM third after the U.S. and India, but we must also be ashamed that is categorized as one of the most corrupt country in the world.

With so naturally we asked, Pantaskah Indonesia serve as a role model of democracy for other countries as in believe by Priyo Budi Santoso. The answer is decent, with a note “if the violence in the name of religion in this country stopped and the perpetrators of corruption can be dealt with firmly by the law down to the roots”. Fingers crossed!

Social media analyst at LSI Network and author of Global Warming

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