A new political regime characterised by the prominence of such institutions as parties, parliaments and elections has emerged in Indonesia. However, old predatory interests incubated under the New Order's vast system of patronage have successfully reconstituted themselves within this new regime. Through new alliances, they have effectively captured the institutions of democracy. This chapter examines the process of reconstitution and appropriation primarily through a discussion of the case of North Sumatra, but also on the basis of observations from Yogyakarta in Central Java. It pays particular attention to the rise in local politics of those formerly ensconced in the lower layers of the New Order's system of patronage. The analysis involves a reconsideration of some features of the democratic transitions literature, especially as adapted to the Indonesian case, and of currently fashionable notions of ‘good governance’.
ON TRANSITIONS AND INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE
The still-growing ‘democratic transitions’ literature essentially concerns the different scenarios that may follow the demise of an authoritarian regime, which may or may not culminate in the consolidation and maturation of democracy.O'Donnell and Schmitter, key figures in the transitions literature, describe their seminal work as being concerned with ‘transitions from certain authoritarian regimes toward an uncertain “something else”’. They note that this ‘something’ could be the ‘instauration’ of political democracy or the restoration of a new, and possibly more severe, form of authoritarian rule; or that it could simply be ‘the rotation in power of successive governments which fail to provideany enduring or predictable solution to the problem of institutionalising political power’ (O'Donnell and Schmitter 1986: 3).
However, those writing on Indonesia have tended, at least initially, to ‘forget’ the different kinds of ‘something else’ that are conceivable, attracted as they are to the linear conception of democratic change that is said to begin from authoritarian decay, then go through the stages of ‘transition’, ‘consolidation’ and ‘maturation’ (van Klinken 1999: 59). Related to this view is the idea that the transition to a liberal form of democracy is primarily a question of crafting the right kinds of institutions of governance. Thus much attention has been paid to charting the development of constitutional changes, new election laws, laws on regional decentralisation and the like.