Dictatorship to Democracy Overnight in Indonesia

1315 Words Mar 10th, 2011 6 Pages
Dictatorship to Democracy Overnight

Indonesia is a country in Southeast Asia that was under a military dictatorship for 32 years. The dictatorship era started after the failure of communist coup d’état by Indonesia’s Communist Party in 1966. General Suharto, the one who had the biggest role in failing the coup d’état, ousted the first president and established an autocratic anti-communist regime known as the New Order, which attracted political and economic support from Western governments during the Cold War. At the beginning of this era, he said he would practice a kind of semi-direct democracy, while later, even the news in newspapers was controlled by the government. His era was ended in 1998 by a huge student revolution and riots
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In contrast to the New Order era government’s reaction to separatist movements in Indonesia, the reformation era government in its early days made a mistake by giving a referendum to East Timor, a province in central Indonesia that had longed to form its own country since the New Order era. The referendum was to stay with Indonesia or to stand as an independent country, and the province chose the latter choice. This influenced other provinces that are not satisfied with the reformation era government due to the centralized development in certain parts of the country to start separatist movements.
Even though Indonesia was led by a dictator during 1966-1998, there were still elections during the period. The election at that time was to elect one of the three political parties to get their members as new members of House of Representatives. Since there were only three political parties, each time there was going to be an election, the campaigns never ended up in chaos and the election ended in peace. After General Suharto was ousted in 1998, there was some kind of a “party craze”, everyone intended to make their own political party, without any limitation from the government. Consequently, in the 1999 election, people had to choose from 48 political parties. It could be imagined how a country that was still very unstable after a revolution, had an election with tons of
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