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Title: A Muslim Democracy and Corrupt Government in a Struggling Economy: National Identity in Indonesia in 2015
Authors: Cheryl Cosslett
Risa Toha
Keywords: Muslim
Religious, but Unspecified
Free from Corruption (Aspiration)
Functioning and Accountable Government (Aspiration)
Dysfunctional and Incompetent Government
Pro-Poor (Aspiration)
Democratic Undemocratic
Democratic (Aspiration)
Non-Aligned Foreign Policy
Exploited by Corporations
Prone to Ethnoreligious Conflict
Vulnerable to Terrorism and Radicalism
Prone to Social Conflict
Independent and Sovereign
Ignorant Society
Socioeconomically Unequal
Weak Economy
Strong Economy (Aspiration)
Middle Class
Developing Economy
Environmentally Degraded
The Netherlands
The Communist Party, PKI
Chinese Indonesians
World Trade Organization (WTO)
ASEAN and Southeast Asia
International Communities: Asia-Africa, G-20, OPEC, UN
Old Order
New Order
1998 Crisis
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: National University of Singapore
Citation: Cheryl Cosslett, Risa Toha (2019). A Muslim Democracy and Corrupt Government in a Struggling Economy: National Identity in Indonesia in 2015 : 1-27. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: For an emerging democracy as large and diverse as Indonesia, identity discourses in the country naturally span a wide range of categories. Nonetheless, some dominant categories emerge. The dominant identity discourses in Indonesia portray the country as religious: more specifically, as a predominantly Muslim nation. The Islamic religion is described as a fact of life and constructed as a significant identity marker throughout elite and mass texts. According to a report by Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population, with 87.2 percent of the populace identifying as Muslims as of 2013. Interestingly, our discourse analysis also saw the emergence of a Christian identity in Indonesia, although to a much lesser degree than its Muslim identity. Identifications on the country’s state of democracy vary. Although democratic ideals are desired widely, a superficial democratic regime—together with a corrupt, incompetent and anti-poor government—undermines the country’s democratic and social status. As the President takes pride on the country’s democracy, the rest of the discourse emphasize the reality of superficial democratic values, where the Indonesian people are disregarded by a corrupt elite who controls the state. Voting, for instance, is perceived as damaged by money and party politics. The public describes the country as ridden with practices of bribery, money-politics, and oligarchy in the face of a poor people who is burdened by corrupt and morally broken officials. In conjunction is the narrative of a dysfunctional and incompetent government. Mass texts express a rather unanimous discontentment toward this identification, whereas elite texts have expressed a more positive outlook by harbouring aspirations toward a cleaner, non-corrupt, and more functional government.
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