1st Edition

Politics in Contemporary Indonesia
Institutional Change, Policy Challenges and Democratic Decline

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after March 15, 2022
ISBN 9781138626089
March 15, 2022 Forthcoming by Routledge
256 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations

USD $42.95

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Book Description

In Politics in Contemporary Indonesia, Ken M.P. Setiawan and Dirk Tomsa analyse the most prominent political ideas, institutions, interests and issues that shape Indonesian politics today. Guided by the overarching question whether Indonesia still deserves its famous label as a ‘model Muslim democracy’, the book argues that the most serious threats to Indonesian democracy emanate from the fading appeal of democracy as a compelling narrative, the increasingly brazen capture of democratic institutions by predatory interests, and the narrowing public space for those who seek to defend the values of democracy. In so doing, the book answers the following key questions:

  • What are the dominant political narratives that underpin Indonesian politics?
  • How has Indonesia’s institutional framework evolved since the onset of democratisation in 1998?
  • How do competing political interests weaken or strengthen Indonesian democracy?
  • How does declining democracy affect Indonesia’s prospects for dealing with its main policy challenges?
  • How does Indonesia compare to other Muslim-majority states and to its regional neighbours?

Up-to-date, comprehensive, and written in an accessible style, this book will be of interest for both students and scholars of Indonesian politics, Asian Studies, Comparative Politics and International Relations.

Table of Contents

1. Trends and Features of Contemporary Indonesian Politics

2. The Road to Democracy

3. Political Institutions: Multiparty Presidentialism and Electoral Politics

4. Local Government

5. The Judiciary

6. Islam and Politics

7. Civil Society and the Media

8. Human Development and Public Health

9. Gender Equality and Sexual Politics

10. Human Rights

11. Environmental Challenges

12. Foreign Policy

13. Indonesian Democracy in Comparative Perspective

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Ken M.P. Setiawan is Lecturer in Indonesian and Asian Studies at the Asia Institute, The University of Melbourne, Australia. She is also Associate at the Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society (CILIS) at the Melbourne Law School. Her research interests include globalisation and human rights, particularly focusing on the promotion of human rights at national and local levels. She has widely published on the politics of human rights in contemporary Indonesia, including Promoting Human Rights: National Human Rights Institutions in Indonesia and Malaysia (2013).

Dirk Tomsa is Associate Professor in the Department of Politics, Media and Philosophy at La Trobe University, Australia. His main research interests focus on Indonesian and comparative Southeast Asian politics, especially in the areas of democratisation and democratic decline, electoral and party politics, institutional change and environmental politics. His publications include Party Politics and Democratization in Indonesia: Golkar in the Post-Suharto Era (Routledge, 2008) as well as two co-edited volumes and numerous journal articles and book chapters on Indonesian and Southeast Asian politics.


"Two of the foremost scholars of Indonesia, Ken Setiawan and Dirk Tomsa, have teamed up to write the most authoritative and comprehensive overview of that country’s dynamic democracy, and to explain the myriad forces that are responsible for that democracy’s resiliency and blemishes, in years. If one wants to grasp what has been happening since this large and strategic archipelagic nation-state started down its bumpy road to democracy nearly twenty-five years ago, and why careening off that road seems increasingly likely, start by reading this capably written, tightly organized, and exhaustively researched book."

Jamie S. Davidson, National University of Singapore

"Politics in Contemporary Indonesia is a rich and highly readable assessment of current affairs in Indonesia, which offers a first-rate analysis of Indonesia’s democratic decline and the forces behind that. Rather than focussing only on election outcomes and party politics, attention is directed to a much wider set of political issues that are shaping Indonesia’s present and future, including human rights, social justice, gender, political Islam, and ecology. The COVID-19 pandemic receives special attention, not least as it has exacerbated many existing drawbacks. Setiawan and Tomsa offer long-term observers a highly plausible interpretation of contemporary Indonesia, but also succeed in making Indonesia more accessible to newcomers."

Antje Missbach, Bielefeld University, Germany

"Politics in Contemporary Indonesia presents an excellent overview of Indonesian politics today. Written in an accessible style by two authors who know both the country and the scholarship superbly well, this volume takes readers through an even-handed and authoritative account of the major issues and themes driving contention in contemporary Indonesia. With chapters that provide deeply researched yet lightly written succinct overviews of key issues, and locates these within a broader framework of debates about the nature and depth of Indonesian democracy, this is a book that will provide readers with a strong grounding in Indonesian politics. Highly recommended for students of Indonesia, or for anyone seeking an introduction to, or update on, the politics of this fascinating country."

Edward Aspinall, Australian National University