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Dirk Tomsa & Narissa Bax (2023) Democratic Regression and Environmental Politics in Indonesia, Asian Studies Review, 47:4, 740-760


For more than a decade, the quality of democracy around the world has been declining, but we still know little about the diverse impacts of this democratic recession on environmental politics. This article provides new insights about the implications of democratic regression for environmental politics in Indonesia, which is Southeast Asia’s largest democracy, a globally important biodiversity hotspot, and an example of democratic decline. Based on an analysis of academic literature, international and Indonesian media reports, as well as survey data, this article argues that in Indonesia, democratic decline has had several detrimental consequences for environmental politics. In particular, we argue that the nationalist framing of infrastructure development, along with controversial new laws and tightening restrictions on both activists and academics are undermining prospects for environmental protection. The article also highlights some silver linings that provide hope for both Indonesia’s democracy and its embattled environment.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.