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Photo:Joko Widodo,” by Global Panorama licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Hue is modified from the original.

Wiratraman, Herlambang P. “Constitutional struggles and the court in Indonesia’s turn to authoritarian politics.” Federal Law Review 50, no. 3 (2022): 314-330.


Indonesia’s politics has changed dramatically during Jokowi’s administration. Numbers of scholars argued this situation turns to a ‘new model of authoritarianism’ or declining democracy. The situation is generally referred to as the strengthening of authoritarian politics. Meanwhile, in such situation, the role of the judiciary is the key to balancing power in authoritarian politics. However, in reality, efforts to encourage constitutional struggle through the judiciary will easily reverse the situation to lose its independence. The court could play a significant role in authoritarian politics. This phenomenon has been called the ‘judicialisation of authoritarian politics’. This article dissects how the process of authoritarian political institutionalisation through law and the courts has occurred in the two decades after Suharto’s reforms. Then it examines how civil society changes and the democracy movement have made it possible to advance constitutional rights in the context of Indonesia’s cartel politics and the judicialisation of authoritarian politics. The legal argument for such judicial practice is that authoritarianism has been increasingly institutionalised, facilitating oligarchy networks in a cartelised political system, so that law and the judiciary merely work to strengthen the chain of impunity.

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.