Donors, government and society in Indonesia's democratic elections

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Democratization theory suggests that 'fair and free' elections tend to decrease government control and strengthen civil society. In Indonesia elections held in 1999, 2004 and 2009 were widely believed to be fair and free, but the effect was to enhance the power of government and weaken the position of donor agencies and civil society. An international context on a new discourse on aid (Paris Declaration) that strengthens the position of recipient governments in relation to donors also contributed to that situation. In particular, governmental control of international assistance has restricted the activities of Indonesian Domestic Election Monitoring Organizations (DEMOs). By enhancing government legitimacy, the elections allowed it to alter its relations with donor agencies and with Indonesian DEMOs. It shows that although theoretically the process of democratization through 'fair and free' election is believed will bring positive impacts to a democratic agenda including the decreasing of government control, this study argues that in the case of Indonesia the impact was different. At the same time, DEMOs have found a new method of monitoring through social media and technological means. The method differs from the old way of monitoring by offering cost efficiency, higher participation, and sustainability. In addition, the practice of this kind of monitoring has a flexibility of ways, means, time and people to participate in observing the election, without restrictions from government.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-62
JournalRitsumeikan Journal of Asia Pacific Studies
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • donor, government, Indonesia DEMOs, democratization, election monitoring


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