Polarization patterns reflected this mode of brokerage. While the Suharto regime grew more isolated over the course of the regime crisis, those who drew away from him never coalesced in an oppositional pole. Rather, an initially tentative—but socially quite limited—gulf emerged between the Suharto government and its democracy critics. The economic downturns of 1997-1998 polarized relations between authorities and a more restive and ungovernable society—but activists operated in light of (and in some fear of) that polarization rather than as its agent. Finally, regime fragmentation did not typically drive a core of reformers toward the movement. Worried members of the parliament, the Golkar party and the military forced his resignation because they were concerned about succession, economic collapse, and social stability: few embraced movement demands for a limited military role in politics or a new constitution. Hence, the modalities of polarization in Indonesian do not line up as isomorphically as in the Philippines, but instead stretched between the government and a range of challengers, on a range of issues. These mobilization pressures were sufficient to drive Suharto from power, but left important legacies for activism in the post-Suharto period. Nor did elements of the latter transition period do much to build relationships
between Indonesian activists and those in power. Unlike in Manila where an extended and broadly inclusive process to write a new constitution emerged, changes in the Indonesian framework for government took place via discrete (though sometimes quite bold) constitutional amendments, but did not invite anything like broad participation. At key moments and on key decisions, such as the late 1998 debate over whether the military would retain its reserved seats in parliament or its political functions, protest exerted substantial influence. But in the main, the process was a governmental affair, and emerged via the decisions of elected officials. Moreover, unlike Philippine groups, Indonesian activists had neither the organizational power nor ready programmatic orientation to immediately advance a national or sectoral reform agenda. Rather, the political space opened by the democratic transition allowed activists to begin to explore constructing larger organizational networks, or to articulate issue specific demands for reform. These processes, combined with anti-dictatorship dynamics that we discussed previously, produced consequences here that differ from those in the Philippines. Movement activists had very little in the way of obligations or organized connections to mass constituencies, and indeed would set out to construct such connections—often figuring out how to do so as they went along—over the next decade. Second, the absence of activist participation in constitutional discussions meant that the transition did nothing to close the gulf that existed between poorly organized activists and government officials, and very little happened over the following years to close the gap between government and movement groups. Finally, because of the movement’s general remove from formal
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- Fall '13