Information und Analyse

Democratic elections may result in a fascist regime

Information and Analysis, 03 July 2014

 by Alex Flor

swastikaAhmad Dhani, prominent pop star and supporter of presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, tries to defend his tasteless and disgusting video performance wearing a NAZI uniform as nothing more than a matter of fashion.

While people all over the world, but voters in Indonesia in particular, should ask whether wearing a uniform showing communist insignia like hammer and sickle would similarly be accepted as „just a sort of fashion“ in Indonesia, Prabowo himself recently put some more fuel on the fire.

Quotation by Edward Aspinall and Marcus Mietzner:

„… In a speech last Saturday at the Taman Ismail Marzuki cultural complex in Jakarta, Prabowo stated that direct elections were not compatible with the Indonesian cultural character and gave a strong signal that he wishes to do away with the practice. In other words, while he wants to encourage Indonesians to vote for him in this election, it appears he does not want to give them a chance to evaluate his performance and cast judgment on his presidency in five years’ time.
… This is an extraordinary state of affairs. It is very rare in the modern world for would-be autocrats to openly state that they want to destroy the electoral system through which they seek to achieve power. They mostly mask such intentions before they are elected. We probably need to go back to the fascist movements of 1930′s Europe to find such explicitly authoritarian sentiments expressed by electoral movements that end up winning elections. …“

The 1933 election in Germany was a democratic one. A majority voted for Hitler, and we all know the rest of this story.

Wait a minute! Do we know? Really all of us?

Up until today most Indonesians have no idea about Hitler’s fascist regime. Many still admire him as a „strong leader“. If they see a weakness in his leadership, it will most probably be the fact that he lost the war.

Almost every Indonesian I know only associates Hitler with World War II. But this war only started in 1939, when Hitler has already been in power for six years. Jewish people and other victims were deported to concentration camps long time before.

In most countries at least some vulnerable groups are aware of such facts. The remaining minority of Jewish people in the Arab world does know about it, even if they can’t speak up. In Indonesia Ahmad Dhani, himself of partly Jewish descent, is ready to wear a NAZI uniform to support a potential fascist leader. Obviously, he has no idea of history. And maybe he’s not personally wrong, but he’s just a product of some of the world’s most successful brain washes!

Indonesia is really unique! President-General Suharto from 1965 until 1998 had enough time and opportunity to brain-wash a whole generation, or even more than that. The success is overwhelming: there’s hardly any place in the world, where abduction victims will actively support the campaign of a presidential candidate, who as an active general was personally responsible for their own abductions. Never mind, if some other abducted activists are missing up till today.

Maybe we even need to defend Ahmad Dhani for his stupid actions: different to the abduction victims, Ahmad Dhani never personally experienced pressure or intimidation. Partly Jewish – so what? Isn’t Yapto Soerjosoemarno, leader of the nationalist vigilante group Pemuda Pancasila, also of Jewish descent?

For the time being let’s put the focus on other enemies: „asing dan aseng“, roughly translated: „foreign or Chinese dominated“. Prabowo serves nationalist sentiments. There’s nothing wrong with nationalism. But people in Germany and elsewhere are very well aware about its small ridge to fascism.

 


 

New Mandala, 30 June 2014

http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/newmandala/2014/06/30/prabowo-subianto-vote-for-me-but-just-the-once
 

Prabowo Subianto: vote for me, but just the once

By

Edward Aspinall and Marcus Mietzner, Guest Contributors

INDONESIA-ELECTION

Presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto has outlined his plans to dismantle Indonesia’s democracy in a public speech, write Edward Aspinall and Marcus Mietzner.

In a speech last Saturday at the Taman Ismail Marzuki cultural complex in Jakarta, Prabowo stated that direct elections were not compatible with the Indonesian cultural character and gave a strong signal that he wishes to do away with the practice. In other words, while he wants to encourage Indonesians to vote for him in this election, it appears he does not want to give them a chance to evaluate his performance and cast judgment on his presidency in five years’ time.

Though we have not yet been able to access a full transcript of the speech, a report appeared in the online version of the Kompas newspaper in which Prabowo stated that direct elections were a product of Western culture that was not ‘suitable’ to Indonesia. He compared the practice to smoking, something that was hard to stop once somebody is hooked on the practice. He continued that Indonesia needed to come up with a new political format that removed traits that went too far in their ‘Western’ orientation.

Kompas quoted him as saying: “We need a new consensus. Political leaders, intellectuals, religious and cultural leaders, even workers. I don’t want this abnormality to allow us to abandon the cultural values of our ancestors.”  Kompas then paraphrased the former general as saying that a  large national-scale meeting would be needed to come up with such a new consensus, contrasting this with the current situation in which “at this time, in the name of democracy, all policies have to be via voting, including direct elections”.

Prabowo is here playing a tune that comes directly from the songbook of the former authoritarian regime of his onetime father-in-law General Suharto.

In the early years of his New Order regime, the military claimed to be putting in a place a new ‘consensus’ on which it based its authoritarian system. The regime also always emphasized a (concocted) version of Indonesian tradition, emphasizing mutual deliberation and consensus, in legitimating its anti-democratic practices. Indeed, Prabowo’s statement reads as if extracted directly from the speech of a government leader at the height of the New Order period, in a way that has become very rare since the end of that regime.

Presumably, what Prabowo has in mind is not simply the elimination of direct elections for local government heads (something that he has already spoken explicitly on) but also a return to indirect elections of the President via the MPR (Majelis Pemusyawarahan Rakyat, People’s Consultative Assembly), the process that was used by Suharto and that was, and will be, wide open to manipulation and patronage politics.

This is perhaps the most explicit statement so far of Prabowo’s attitude to electoral democracy. He has stated in the past that democracy ‘exhausts us’, that he wishes to create a ‘productive’ rather than ‘destructive’ democracy, and has indirectly signaled an intent to dismantle much of the infrastructure of post-Suharto democracy by returning to the original version of the 1945 Constitution. Only now do we see that Prabowo very likely also wants to dismantle the very mechanism that will bring him to power: direct presidential elections.

This is an extraordinary state of affairs. It is very rare in the modern world for would-be autocrats to openly state that they want to destroy the electoral system through which they seek to achieve power. They mostly mask such intentions before they are elected. We probably need to go back to the fascist movements of 1930′s Europe to find such explicitly authoritarian sentiments expressed by electoral movements that end up winning elections.

So far, however, the camp of Prabowo’s rival, Joko Widodo, seems to be doing nothing to highlight Prabowo’s recent statement and the threat that it implies toward Indonesia’s democratic architecture. This is in line with that campaign’s failure to highlight similarly anti-democratic elements in Prabowo’s statements and appeal, and its apparent unwillingness to pitch this election as one in which the future of Indonesia’s democratic system is at stake.

If Indonesian democracy dies on July 9, it will do so with a whimper, not a bang.
 

Edward Aspinall and Marcus Mietzner are Indonesia politics specialists based at the Department of Political and Social Change in the Australian National University’s College of Asia and the Pacific. They have been on the ground following the presidential elections.

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