“Two Decades of Ideological Contestation in Indonesia: From Democratic Cosmopolitanism to Religious Nationalism” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2019.1590620) by David M. Bourchier of Asian Studies at the University of Western Australia is the second article for a special issue on post-reformasi Indonesia.
This article surveys ideological developments in Indonesia over the past two decades, tracing a shift in the ideological centre of gravity from the embrace of democratic norms in the immediate post Suharto period towards a conservative and inward-looking religious nationalism. Several reasons are identified for this shift, including the failure of reformers to adequately deal with the legacy of Suharto’s Pancasila indoctrination project and the success of conservative New Order elites in regaining control of the democratic process after 2001. Attention is given to the concessions made to Islamist interests under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, which gave conservative Islam an unprecedented level of power and legitimacy. Of special importance here was the Constitutional Court’s validation of the blasphemy law, helping transform Indonesia into an overtly religious state and pave the way for greater state involvement in enforcing moral norms based both on Islamic values and a conservative reading of indigenous culture. The article also highlights the success of Prabowo Subianto’s populist authoritarian movement in linking with sectarian groups, prompting President Joko Widodo to adopt an increasingly authoritarian and xenophobic agenda, leaving little space for the public defence of secular law, pluralism, democracy and human rights.