Declining democracy: autocratization in Indonesia during the Jokowi years

Taufik Taufik, Muhamad M.N Nadzri, Jamaie Hj. Hamil


This article explores the decline of democracy in contemporary Indonesia during the Jokowi years. Jokowi's lukewarm commitment to democratic norms and illiberal attitude in running the government have made him an essentially conditional democrat, who is heavily influenced by the old political elite within a transitional political framework. As the result, Indonesia under the Jokowi's administration is entrapped with the old political practices, particularly oligarchic rules and political manipulation which awaken a new autocratization episode in its contemporary political history. This article is based on  interviews with eight key informants and supported with numerous secondary data from various sources. The article highlights three important points: first, the decline of democracy was caused by the old oligarchic, and cartelism practices. Second, Jokowi's superficial commitment to democracy essentially makes him a conditional democrat, rather than a progressive liberal. Third, Jokowi's leadership led to a new style of autocratization and authoritarianism in Indonesia which was influenced by the manoeuvring of the old political elite.


autocratization; conditional democrat; democracy decline; Indonesian politics; Jokowi.

Full Text:



Albertus, M., & Menaldo, V. (2018). Authoritarianism and the Elite Origins of Democracy. Cambridge University Press.

Altemeyer, B. (2006). The authoritarian. University of Manitoba.

Ambardi, K. (2019). Mengungkat Politik Kartel: Studi tentang Sistem kepartaian di indonesia Era Reformasi. Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia (KPG).

Anon. (2010, August 19). SBY Tolak Perpanjangan Masa. Kompas.Com.

Anon. (2019, December 8). Koalisi: Polisi Paling Banyak Langgar HAM Sejak 2014-2019. CNN Indonesia.

Aspinall, E., & Berenschot, W. (2019). Democracy for Sale: Elections, Clientelism, and the State of in Indonesia. Cornell University Press.

Asrinaldi, Yusoff, M. A., & Karim, dan Z. A. (2022). Oligarchy in the Jokowi government and its influence on the implementation of legislative function in Indonesia. Asian Journal of Comparative Politics, 7(2), 189–203.

Bermeo, N. (2016a). On Democratic Backsliding. Journal of Democracy, 27(1), 5–19.

Bermeo, N. (2016b). On Democratic Backsliding. Journal of Democracy, 27(1), 5–19.

Bland, B. (2020). The Man of Contradictions: Joko Widodo and The Struggle to Remake Indonesia. In Man of Contradictions: Joko Widodo and the struggle to remake Indonesia. Lowy Institute.

Boudreau, V. (2009). Elections, Repression and Authoritarian Survival in Post-Transition Indonesia and the Philippines. Pacific Review, 22(2), 233–253.

Boutros-Ghali, B. (1996). An Agenda for Democratization. United Nation.

Bünte, M., & Thompson, M. R. (2018). Perilous presidentialism in Southeast Asia? In Contemporary Politics (Vol. 24, Number 3, pp. 251–265). Routledge.

Cerutti, F. (2017). Conceptualizing politics: an introduction to political philosophy. Routledge.

Creswell, J. W. (2014). Research design : qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. In Sage Publications. Sage Publication, Inc.

Curato, N., & Fossati, D. (2020). Authoritarian innovations. Democratization, 27(6), 1006–1020.

Davidson, J. S. (2018). Indonesia: Twenty Years of Democracy (Elements in Politics and Society in Southeast Asia). Cambridge University Press.

Diamond, L. (2010). Indonesia’s Place in Global Democracy. In E. Aspinall & M. Mietzner (Eds.), Problems of Democratisation in Indonesia: Elections, Institutions and Society (pp. 21–49). ISEAS.

Dressel, B., & Susilo, F. (2023). Presidential Democracies. In P. J. Yap & R. Abeyratne (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Asian Parliaments (pp. 82–100). Routledge.

Emir, T. (2017). #KamiAHok. PT. Gramedia Pustaka Utama.

Farisa, F. C. (2021, May 5). Mengingat Lagi Saat Jokowi Ingkar Janji Soal Perppu KPK. Kompas.Com.

Fromm, E. (1969). Escape From Freedom. Avon Books.

Gandhi, J., & Ong, E. (2019). Committed or Conditional Democrats? Opposition Dynamics in Electoral Autocracies. American Journal of Political Science, 63(4), 1–16.

Gelfeld, B. (2018). Preventing Deviations from Presidential Term Limits in Low- and Middle-Income Democracies [Dissertation, Pardee RAND Graduate School].

Hadiz, V. R. (2017). Indonesia’s year of democratic setbacks: towards a new phase of deepening illiberalism? Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, 53(3), 261–278.

Haggard, S., & Kaufman, R. (2021). Backsliding. In Backsliding. Cambridge University Press.

Hamid, A. (2014). Jokowi’s Populism in the 2012 Jakarta Gubernatorial. JournalofCurrentSoutheastAsianAffairs, 33(1), 85–109.

Haryati, E., Nasikun, J., & Tjokrowinoto, M. (2003). Konfigurasi Politik, Karakter Kebijakan, dan Penanggulangan Kemiskinan. Wacana Kinerja, 6(4), 43–56.

Horowitz, D. L. (2013). Constitutional Change and Democracy in Indonesia. Cambridge University Press.

Huntington, S. P. (1991). The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century. University of Oklahoma Press.

Ihsanuddin. (2015, July 22). Jokowi: Pemberantasan Korupsi Jangan Buat Pelaku Bisnis Takut Berinovasi. Kompas.Com.

Ihsanuddin. (2019a, October 17). Tanpa Tanda Tangan Presiden, UU KPK Hasil Revisi Resmi Berlaku. Kompas.Com.

Ihsanuddin. (2019b, December 2). Presiden Jokowi: Pengusul Presiden 3 Periode Ingin Menampar Muka Saya. Kompas.Com.

Jakartincus. (2016). Jokowi dalam Samudra Oligarki. Youtube Jakartanicus.

Karim, A. G. (2019). Mengelola Polarisasi Politk Indonesia dalam Sirkulasi Kekuasaan di Indonesia: Catatan bagi Agenda Riset. Politika: Jurnal Ilmu Politik, 10(2), 215–228.

Kurlantzick, J. (2018). Southeast Asia’s Populism Is Different but Also Dangerous. Council on Foreign Relations.

Leach, D. K. (2005). The iron law of what again? Conceptualizing oligarchy across organizational forms. Sociological Theory, 23(3), 312–337.

Levitsky, S., & Ziblatt, D. (2018). How Democracies Die. Crown.

Loxton, J. (2016). Authoritarian Successor Parties Worldwide: A Framework for Analysis (No. 411).

Loxton, J. (2018). Introduction: Authoritarian Successor Parties Worldwide. In Life after Dictatorship: Authoritarian Successor Parties Worldwide (pp. 1–49). Cambridge University Press.

Lührmann, A., & Lindberg, S. I. (2019). A third wave of autocratization is here: what is new about it? Democratization, 26(3), 1–19.

Macintyre, A., & Ramage, D. E. (2008). Seeing Indonesia as a Normal Country: Implications for Australia. In Seeing Indonesia as a normal country: Implications for Australia. Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Mangunhardjana, A. (1997). Isme-Isme dari A sampai Z. Kanisius.

Manning, C. (2008). The Making of Democrats: elections and Party Development inPostwar Bosnia, El Savador and Mozambique. In Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling (Vol. 53, Number 9). PALGRAVE MACMILLAN.

Manurung, M. Y. (2018, February 27). Penjelasan Mahfud MD Soal Aturan Dua Kali Masa Jabatan Wapres. Tempo.Co.

Mietzner, M. (2014). Indonesia’s 2014 Election : How Jokowi Won And Democracy Survived. Journal of Democracy, 25(4), 111–125.

Mietzner, M. (2015). Reinventing Asian Populism: Jokowi’s Rise, Democracy, and Political Contestation in Indonesia. East-West Center.

Mietzner, M. (2018). Fighting Illiberalism with Illiberalism: Islamist Populism and Democratic Deconsolidation in Indonesia. 91(2), 261–282.

Mietzner, M. (2019). Authoritarian innovations in Indonesia: electoral narrowing, identity politics and executive illiberalism. Democratization, 27(6), 1021–1036.

Mochtar, Z. A., & Rishan, I. (2022). Autocratic Legalism: the Making of Indonesian Omnibus Law. Yustisia Jurnal Hukum, 11(1), 29.

Mudde, C., & Kaltwasser, C. R. (2017). Populism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press.

Muhtadi, B. (2015). Indonesian Politics in 2015 Jokowi’s First Year: A Weak President Caught. Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, 51(3), 349–368.

Power, T. P. (2018). Jokowi’s authoritarian turn and Indonesia’s democratic decline. Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, 54(3), 307–338.

Power, T., & Warburton, E. (2020). The Decline of Indonesian Democracy. In T. Power & E. Warburton (Eds.), Democracy in Indonesia: From Stagnation to Regression? (pp. 1–20). ISEAS.

Puspitasri, M. A., & Irfani, R. (2020, July 2). Politik Jokowi Manjakan Polisi. Koran Tempo.

Putri, B. U. (2019, October 31). Idham Aziz Tak Ditanya Soal Polisi Alat Rezim, Hars: Sandiwara. Tempo.Co.

Ristiyanti, J. (2023, February 2). Dua Wajah Wacana Masa Jabatan Presiden. Koran Tempo.

Robison, R., & Hadiz, V. R. (2004). Reorganising Power in Indonesia: The Politics of Oligarchy in an Age of Markets. Routledge.

Rustow, D. A. (1970). Transitions to Democracy: Toward a Dynamic Model (Vol. 2, Number 3).

Saputra, A. (2021, March 15). Kisah JK dalam Gugatan Wapres 3 Periode. DetikNews.

Schedler, A. (2006). The Logic of Electoral Authoritarianism. In A. Schedler (Ed.), Electoral Authoritarianism: The Dynamics of Unfree Competition. Lynne Riener Publisher Inc.

Sihidi, I. T., Roziqin, A., & Suhermanto, D. F. (2020). Pertarungan Populisme Islam dalam Pemilihan Presiden 2019. Jurnal Ilmiah Ilmu Pemerintahan, 5(2).

Skaaning, S.-E. (2020). Waves of autocratization and democratization: a critical note on conceptualization and measurement. Democratization, 27(8), 1533–1542.

Slater, D. (2018). Party Cartelization, Indonesian-Style: Presidential Power Sharing and the Contingency of Democratic Opposition. Journal of East Asian Studies, 18(1), 23–46.

Slater, D., & Simmons, E. (2013). Coping by Colluding: Political Uncertainty and Promiscuous Powersharing in Indonesia and Bolivia. Comparative Political Studies, 46(11), 1366–1393.

Taufik, T., Mohamed Noor, M. N., & Hamil, J. (2023). The Elite Construction Post-Authoritarianism Suharto. Malaysian Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities (MJSSH), 8(6), e002335.

Tim Detikcom. (2020). Kritik Amien Rais ke Jokowi: Politik Belah Bambu hingga Mental Koncoisme. Detiknews.Com.

Tomsa, D. (2010). Indonesian politics in 2010: the perils of stagnation. Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, 46(3), 309–328.

Tomsa, D. (2018). Regime Resilience and Presidential Politics in Indonesia. Contemporary Politics, 24(3), 266–285.

Topsell, R. (2015). Indonesia’s Media Oligarchy and The “Jokowi Phenomenon.” Indonesia, 99, 29–50.

Vaillant, B. G. (2012). Authoritarian regimes. In G. Ritzer. (Ed.), The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Globalization (First Edit, pp. 1–3). Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Warburton, E. (2016). Jokowi and the New Developmentalism. Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, 52(3), 297–320.

Warburton, E., & Aspinall, E. (2019). Explaining Indonesia’s Democratic Regression: Structure, Agency and Popular Opinion. Contemporary Southeast Asia, 41(2), 255–285.

Warijo. (2015). Politik Belah Bambu Jokowi dari Mafia Politik sampai Islamfobia. Puspantara.

Winters, J. A. (2011). Oligarchy. Cambridge University Press.

Winters, J. A. (2013). Oligarchy and Democracy in Indonesia. Indonesia, October(96), 11–33.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2023 Otoritas : Jurnal Ilmu Pemerintahan

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


Creative Commons License

Otoritas : Jurnal Ilmu Pemerintahan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
View My Stats