Indonesia and the "conflictual consensus": a discursive perspective on Indonesian democracy
Duile, Timo; Bens, Jonas – 2017
In this essay we propose an alternative approach to assessing the state of democracy in Indonesia. We focus not on institutional indicators (as is usually the case) but on manifestations of political discourses in the public sphere. In applying post-Marxist political theory through the work of Slavoj Žižek and Chantal Mouffe, we argue that democracy’s main defining feature is that it allows antagonistic discourses about alternative policies to coexist, yet still manages to coalesce around a minimal consensus on how these discursive conflicts are to be dealt with in a fair way. Applying this approach to democracy analysis to Indonesia, we suggest that the major obstacles to democratic practice do not emerge from institutional problems, but from an overbearing political discourse that imposes broad consensus and harmony on most political issues. Political discourse in Indonesia is generally structured around “Islam” and “the people.” These themes provide a basis for a political consensus that conceals economic and social contradictions and reveals considerable depoliticization in Indonesian democratic practice.