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Constitutional Change and Democracy in Indonesia

Constitutional Change and Democracy in Indonesia

by Donald L. Horowitz

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After the fall of its authoritarian regime in 1998, Indonesia pursued an unusual course of democratization. It was insider-dominated and gradualist, and it involved free elections before a lengthy process of constitutional reform. At the end of the process, Indonesia's amended constitution was essentially a new and thoroughly democratic document. By proceeding as


After the fall of its authoritarian regime in 1998, Indonesia pursued an unusual course of democratization. It was insider-dominated and gradualist, and it involved free elections before a lengthy process of constitutional reform. At the end of the process, Indonesia's amended constitution was essentially a new and thoroughly democratic document. By proceeding as they did, the Indonesians averted the conflict that would have arisen between adherents of the old constitution and proponents of radical, immediate reform. Gradual reform also made possible the adoption of institutions that preserved pluralism and pushed politics toward the center. The resulting democracy has a number of prominent flaws, largely attributable to the process chosen, but is a better outcome than the most likely alternatives. Donald L. Horowitz documents the decisions that gave rise to this distinctive constitutional process. He then traces the effects of the new institutions on Indonesian politics and discusses their shortcomings as well as their achievements in steering Indonesia away from the dangers of polarization and violence, all the while placing the Indonesian story in the context of comparative experience with constitutional design and intergroup conflict.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a wonderful book. The author has a reputation as one of the world's foremost scholars of ethnic conflict and its relations to political institutions, and in this book he demonstrates why he deserves this reputation. The book presents a coherent and even gripping narrative about Indonesian constitutional and political reform, navigating its way through a complex cast of characters and institutions to present an account that engages the reader at every step of the story. The book is animated by a strong central argument that the incremental, insider-dominated and gradualist nature of Indonesian reform, with elections preceding democratic change, succeeded in bringing about democratization and steered Indonesia away from the dangers of polarization and violence. A compelling narrative, based on a strong empirical grasp of the events under discussion, within an explicit theoretical and comparative framework."
Edward Aspinall, Australian National University

"How is it that Indonesia transformed itself from an autocratic dictatorship to a respectably open democracy in less than a decade, during a time when so many other developing countries were stalled or backsliding in making democratic transitions? A large part of the answer can be found in its ability to effect the relatively smooth constitutional changes that Donald Horowitz explores here in detail. This is a must-have book for any serious student of modern Indonesia."
Harry Blair, Yale University

"In the wake of a massive economic collapse, rising separatist sentiment, and the spread of ethnic and religious tensions, Indonesia's apparently entrenched military-dominated regime seemed an unlikely candidate for democratization when the Soeharto regime fell in 1998. In this book Donald Horowitz explains how Indonesia's sharply divided political elite managed to reach improbable compromises that laid the foundations for the strengthening of democratic institutions."
Harold Crouch, Australian National University

"In this volume, one of the great figures in comparative politics turns his powerful analytic vision to the emergence of constitutional democracy in Indonesia. According to the conventional wisdom, Indonesia did everything wrong but nevertheless managed to produce a vibrant constitutional democracy. Horowitz brilliantly elucidates the logic behind this story, emphasizing the roles of context, consensus, and enduring memory in shaping choices and outcomes."
Tom Ginsburg, University of Chicago Law School

"The country's remarkable steps toward democracy have inspired a recent proliferation of original works, and this is one of the best ... Its politics long ignored, the world's fourth-largest country is now firmly on the academic scene, and in Horowitz's hands adding new insights about the process of democratic transitions. Recommended. Upper-division undergraduate, graduate, research and professional collections."
E. V. Schneier, Choice

"Horowitz's excellent Constitutional Change and Democracy in Indonesia provides a compelling account of Indonesia's transformation from an authoritarian regime to a constitutional democracy, detailing why particular models and institutions came to be chosen over various alternatives ... Horowitz's work is impressively rigorous and comprehensive."
Simon Butt, Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia

"Horowitz's study of the post-1998 Indonesian constitution-making process, its outcomes and its consequences has the depth of an area specialist's work, and yet the theoretical embedding of political science at its best."
Adriaan Bedner, Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia

"Indonesia remains the only country in Southeast Asia to be rated "free" in Freedom House's annual survey of political rights and civil liberties. In the wider context of the Muslim world, certainly, this rare situation is significant in showing that this combination of Islam and constitutionalism can lead to the checks-and-balances mechanisms that are vital to democracy. Donald L. Horowitz's brilliant book Constitutional Change and Democracy in Indonesia evaluates and explains the process, the outcome and the ongoing struggle of the Indonesian democracy."
Nadirsyah Hosen, Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia

"Constitutional Change and Democracy in Indonesia is a complex and fascinating book that should become an essential reference for scholars of party competition and institutional development in Indonesia."
Thomas B. Pepinsky, Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies

"In this remarkable book, Donald Horowitz finds the answer to Indonesia's democratic resilience in a medley of factors: starting conditions, fortuitous timing, consensual elites and viscous but free-moving social forces, producing a benign kinetic that he labels "multipolar fluidity" ... Horowitz offers a sumptuous and thoughtful account. His book will hold obvious appeal for the legions of dedicated Indonesianists."
William Case, Pacific Affairs

"Rich in empirical detail as well as comparative reflections, Horowitz's book provides a masterful step-by-step account of how Indonesia chose a "gradual, insider-dominated, elections-first [approach to] constitution making" (p. 262), and how this particular choice helped Indonesia to consolidate its democracy ... Horowitz's book is the best to appear so far on Indonesia's surprising emergence as one of the great democratic success stories of the last two decades."
Marcus Mietzner, Journal of Democracy

"Democracy without democrats" - that is how Indonesia since 1998 could be described ... So should we admire it, or condemn it? This is the puzzle Donald Horowitz addresses in this magisterial book."
Gerry van Klinken, Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia

"... Donald L. Horowitz's Constitutional Change and Democracy in Indonesia ... delivers an incredibly detailed and often fascinating narrative."
Dirk Tomsa, Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs

Product Details

Cambridge University Press
Publication date:
Problems of International Politics
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Donald L. Horowitz is the James B. Duke Professor of Law and Political Science at Duke University. He is the author of The Courts and Social Policy (1977), winner of the Louis Brownlow Award of the National Academy of Public Administration; The Jurocracy (1977), a book about government lawyers; Coup Theories and Officers' Motives: Sri Lanka in Comparative Perspective (1980); Ethnic Groups in Conflict (1985, 2000); A Democratic South Africa? Constitutional Engineering in a Divided Society (1991), winner of the Ralph Bunche Award of the American Political Science Association; and The Deadly Ethnic Riot (2001). Horowitz has been a visiting professor at the University of Chicago Law School and the Central European University as well as a visiting fellow at Wolfson College, Cambridge, at the Law Faculty of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. In 2001, he was Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics and in 2001-2002, he was a Carnegie Scholar. In 2009, he was presented with the Distinguished Scholar Award of the Ethnicity, Nationalism and Migration Section of the International Studies Association. Horowitz is currently writing a book about constitutional design, particularly for divided societies, a subject on which he has advised in a number of countries. In 2010-11, he was a fellow of the Woodrow Wilson Center. In 2011-12, he was a Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow at the US Institute of Peace and in 2013, he will be a fellow of the American Academy in Berlin. Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1993, he served as president of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy from 2007 to 2010. In 2011, Horowitz was awarded an honorary doctoral degree by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, the Flemish-speaking Free University of Brussels.

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