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Is Indonesia retreating from democracy?

This is an edited extract from Tim Lindsey’s essay ‘Retreat from Democracy’, which appears in Australian Foreign Affairs #3, published 9 July. FOR much of the past 20 years, Indonesia has been held up as a model of democratic transition for other countries, particularly those with significant Muslim populations. Indonesia’s leaders like to present their nation as embodying an exemplary path away from authoritarianism. Their form of government, they say, is tolerant yet enshrines religious practice, offering a political alternative for Muslim communities that is more palatable to the West than the failed Arab Spring and the extremist catastrophes that have engulfed the Middle East since the US intervened in Afghanistan and Iraq. SEE ALSO: #20TahunReformasi: Celebrating 20 years of Indonesian democracy This view of Indonesia now needs rethinking. The country’s hard-won advances towards liberalism and tolerance may be under threat. This nation of more than 260 million people – over 85...

 

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