Indonesia's Achilles' heel: Populist authoritarianism
April-June 2017
By: Rainer Heufers

When the Indonesian government asked the military to ensure national food production targets through the Army Supporting Food Security Program, it nurtured an understanding that the Army was better equipped to deal with domestic matters than civilians. Likewise, the government’s state defense program entrusts the Army with providing 100 million Indonesians quasi-military training and ideological indoctrination, which only helps facilitate the military’s outreach to youth, and into the economy and society. If the government were to instead reduce the military’s involvement in domestic affairs it would starve the populist authoritarian claim that, on balance, an authoritarian system is better suited than a democracy to ensure socioeconomic development in Indonesia.

Rainer Heufers is executive director of the Center for Indonesian Policy Studies in Jakarta.

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