Skip to main content

Photo: “September2019jakartademo3“, by JahlilMA, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. Hue modified from the original

Tan, Lena. “Whose Democracy? Governing Indonesia in a Globalized World.” In Challenges of Globalization and Prospects for an Inter-civilizational World Order, pp. 655-671. Springer, Cham, 2020.


In 1998, Indonesia’s political system underwent a complex transition from thirty years of authoritarianism to democratic rule. While it has been widely lauded as a model for many countries, Indonesia’s democracy is now increasingly described as illiberal. This chapter examines the complex processes and actors involved in the reconstruction of its political system by first unpacking its conceptualization and practice of democracy through a discussion of its main features and institutions. Second, it analyzes how the development and formulation of Indonesian democracy was influenced not just by factors and processes at the domestic level, but, critically, by their encounter and interactions with the politics, ideas, actors, and networks that have engendered and empowered globalization. In particular, Indonesian actors encountered a post-Cold War political milieu in which democracy was considered de rigueur for all states that aspired to be legitimate members of the international community, and an inextricable part of the foreign policy agenda of the West across the Global South. In doing so, this chapter also sheds lights on the local and global actors who have benefitted from this conceptualization of democracy as well as the structures of power that underpin it.

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.