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Threats to Indonesian Democracy

22 Aug 2018
By Professor Greg Barton
Interview with Professor Greg Barton

Home to the world’s largest Muslim-majority population, Indonesia’s democracy is facing threats of nativism and populism in the upcoming April elections.

As the only other promising candidate besides the incumbent Joko Widodo, Prabowo Subianto has appeared to be a populist and illiberal non-democrat; for example, fanning the flames of conservative Islam against former Governor Ahok during the gubernatorial elections last year. Jokowi himself is also not perfect, having supported police violence and done little against elite power-brokers who threaten litigation against Indonesian journalists.

The chances of Jokowi’s re-election next year will hinge upon the trajectory of Chinese economic development. Any downswing will have a major impact on the Indonesian economy and undermine Jokowi’s pro-China policy. Such a situation will present an opportune moment for Prabowo to rise to power.

Melissa Conley Tyler, the National Executive Director of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, spoke with Professor Greg Barton at the IPSA World Congress 2018 in Brisbane.

Greg Barton is Research Professor in Global Islamic Politics in the Alfred Deakin Institute, Deakin University where he leads research on social inclusion and pluralism, Islam and civil society, democratisation and countering violent extremism.

Interview by Melissa Conley Tyler.

Video by Apoorva Kolluru.

Editing by Tommy Chai.