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Home / Indonesia / Grassroots

Between 1998 and 2004 Indonesia made the transformation from a dictatorial regime to a fully functional democracy in just  6 short years.

Since 1998 Indonesia has known 5 presidents :
- Suharto
- Habibie
- Wahid
- Megawati Soekarnoputri
- Yudhoyono

This would appear as a very unstable society but fact is that since 2001 Indonesia has been firmly on the road to progress and stability.

When Megawati Soekarnoputri took over the presidency of Abdurahman Wahid the Rupiah was again declining against the US dollar and stood at the beginning of 2001 at around Rupiah 12,000 vs. US$ 1,-. Street demonstrations against all kinds of government policies were frequent happenings and in general international investor confidence was low.

The presidency of Mrs. Megawati Soekarnoputri achieved major progress :
- The Rupiah stabilized at around Rupiah 9,000,- vs. US$ 1,-
- Street demonstrations dwindled
- The US-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq did not lead to any
  major unrest
- International investor confidence returned to the country as well as 
  the confidence of the local Indonesian business community.
- Terrorist attacks on Bali and in Jakarta did not manage to destabilize
  the country.

However the most impressive achievement were the national elections. 2004 saw 3 rounds of nationwide elections. In March for parliament, July the 1st round of the presidential elections and in September the 2nd round.

These elections were :
1) The 1st free elections ever
2) The 1st direct presidential elections ever
3) Organized across an archipelago of over 6,000 inhabited islands
4) Free of widespread communal violence
5) Free of widespread corruption
6) Oganized and excecuted on time

The successful and peaceful execution of the elections formed a major victory and step forward for Indonesian society in general but Indonesia's young democracy really reached full maturity when the sitting president accepted the defeat of her ruling party and handed over power peacefully to the newly and democratically elected president Mr. Susilo Bambamg Yudhoyono.

Mrs. Megawati Soekarnoputri has been nicknamed "the Sfinx" for her often stoic outer appearance and it is this image that is one of the reasons she lost the presidential elections. Also many problems remained unsolved during her presidency e.g. corruption, the situations in Aceh and the Maluku islands.

However the Megawati government can be justifiably proud of the results achieved between 2001 and 2004. Because it has been during these 3 years only that Indonesia developed into a real democracy with enough components to ensure future stable development.

Current president Yudhoyono was re-elected in 2009 achieving a majority in the 1st round of the presidential elections with over 60% of the votes. Parliamentary elections had already been held in April in which president Yudhoyono's Partai Demokrat (Democratic Party) achieved 25% of the votes vs. 7.5% in the parliamentary elections of 2004. This has given the president a very clear mandate of the people, both in parliament and as a person.

For now it is fair to say that Indonesia managed to achieve within 6 years (but actually only 3) what many European nations took decades if not centuries to realize.