Free «The Transition to Democracy in Indonesia and Philippines» Essay Sample

The transition in Indonesia and the Philippines from authoritarian regimes took very different paths. In 1986, the fall of Ferdinand E. Marcos can basically be linked to the insatiable desire of the landed oligarchy to get back the control of the state. Martial law was declared in 1972 by Marcos after he served as the Philippines president for two terms. He demobilized any kind of opposition to himself. The Philippine economy began to retard due to Marcos absolute control over the state (Boudreau, pp. 23-46). The Marco’s family and friends owned different segments of the economy and thus was in absolute control of the military, the state and the economy. The economy began to slow down towards the end of 1970s and in the beginning of the 1980s (Daniel, p. 44-56). At this point, political reforms were very much needed. Parliamentary democracy was very much needed and it came to pass in 1986.

The authoritarian–democratic transition took place with little bloodshed. Marcos regime faced a lot of opposition though without much blood shed. The opposition was against Marcos wealth accumulation at the expense of the state’s economy and his use of coercive power. These mainly occurred amidst a very corrupt regime that deprived the country of its economic position and its resources (Tom, pp.66-69). In matters of religion, the Catholic Church steered most of the reforms. The actors of moderate opposition within the democratization process of Philippine were: the Catholic Church, Corazon Aquino and the middle class. These represented the power of the people. The first move to democratic revolution was the Reform the Armed Forces of the Philippines Movement (RAM). RAM endeavored to conduct a coup against Marcos although it needed support. The people power revolution occasioned by Fidel Ramos, a very well linked and charismatic person known as Corazon Aquino who was the opposition leader collected as many people around the forces of the RAM. This finally resulted in the revolution of people power. A moderate position was found that led to the formation of a new democratic government (Hilton and J. Edgardo, pp. 23-46).

Within Indonesia, revolution began way back in 1965 with a coup attempt that finally failed. After this, Suharto became Sukarno’s successor. In the time of Sukarno, inflation reached a high of 50%. A huge battle of ideologies emerged coupled with communists, nationalists and religious movements (Thomas, p.21). Islam played a very significant role during this time. There was the rise of Islamic separatist movements which among other groups threatened to crumble the country. When Suharto was in power, the economic growth in India averaged 7% over a period of thirty years. The military however defeated the rest of the ideologies and took on a dual function in protecting and at the same time running the state (Alagappa, pp. 11-15).

Corruption was also evident in the regime. Suharto mismanaged the financial crisis of Asia in 1997. The crisis in the economy exposed structural relationships between political accountability and transparency and the lasting health of the economy (Joanne and Daniel, pp. 37-61). Amidst the search for instituting economic development and good governance, democracy emerged as the best option for economic recovery and ultimately spurred growth (Edward and Jack, pp.12-39). The Indonesian case is a modernization theory where there was a direct connection between democratic development and economic prosperity (Fareed, pp. 45-73).

The class structure of Indonesia was transformed while the working and middle classes were strengthened as the landed upper class was weakened. The middle class expanded and gathered efforts to the 1997 financial crisis at the same time when the economic growth was 7%. Suharto’s crony wealth was redistributed since there was initially a performance legitimacy issue after the economy slowed down. Indonesia experienced a very different transition from that of the Philippines (Andreas, pp. 23-43). The military played a significant role in Indonesia’s case.


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