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Jakarta’s Spring. Democracy-Building Organizations and the Renaissance of Indonesian Multipartism

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Abstract

On the morning of May 21, 1998, Suharto made a public declaration from the presidential palace renouncing the exercise of power and entrusting the country’s reins to his heir apparent and adoptive son, vice president Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie. This theatrical gesture signaled the inauguration of a period of political change known as Reformasi. However, it did not straightaway give rise to joyous celebrations marking the end of the general president’s authoritarian system. As far as I can recall, the dominant feeling prevailing in Jakarta during the summer of 1998 was one of strong anxiety. No one knew yet if the military, the pillar of the New Order regime, was going to resign itself to “go back to its barracks” as student demonstrators and graffiti vociferously incited it to do. Moreover, B. J. Habibie was considered not as a dissident or a reformer but as a pure product of the Ancien Régime. Finally, many from the urban middle classes as well as small rural landowners expressed a virulent fear of the country toppling into “anarchy.” In the countryside of East Java, severely hit by the economic crisis, entire villages barricaded themselves while collective raids against rice granaries and public teak tree plantations seemed to give consistency to a catastrophic scenario.1 In short, the political future was awaited with anxiety.

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Dates and versions

hal-03394460 , version 1 (22-10-2021)

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Romain Bertrand. Jakarta’s Spring. Democracy-Building Organizations and the Renaissance of Indonesian Multipartism. Democracy at Large. NGOs, Political Foundations, Think Tanks and International Organizations, Palgrave Macmillan, pp.205 - 229, 2012, 9781349441242. ⟨hal-03394460⟩
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