Power, Welfare, and Democracy

A Research Project Collaboration between Universitas Gadjah Mada and the University of Oslo

Project Overview

General overview, PWD project background and objectives

Data Center

Study documentation and data from PWD research

Scholarship for Education and Action in Research

PWD is dedicated to empowering researchers to pursue studies within the framework of the project’s thematic research

Recent News

With the vote for Donald Trump and Brexit, it is common knowledge that increasingly large numbers of people affected by the ills of unregulated globalization are drawn to populist right wing nationalism rather than mainstream liberalism and social democracy. This challenge applies to the Global South too. In India, for example, the Hindu fundamentalists’ identity politics is thriving along with their own private provisioning of social services and neo-liberal oriented economic policies, thus nurturing a local version of the American dream.
Jakarta. Concerns over welfare issues including health, education and social insurance have topped a recent study investigating the role of the government and welfare throughout Indonesia. Around 55 percent of respondents of the survey, which was conducted by the Research Center for Politics and Government of Gadjah Mada University (UGM) in 2013, deemed services such as housing and transportation are a top priority for the public.
ANALYSIS: Indonesia’s democratic progress is bumpy, but on the right track While there is much work to be done, among Southeast Asian countries, Indonesia is one of the few countries that shows genuine democratic progress Members of Indonesia’s civil society organizations were euphoric when the country elected Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, a political outsider, as president. But two years into his presidency, old-style political horse-trading has tempered the initial high expectations of a better way of doing politics in the world’s most-populous Muslim-majority nation.
How can we understand the form of political participation among Indonesians over the past years? From a general impression, it would be easy for us to conclude that political participation has increased as political rights, such as freedom of expression, freedom to form association, are now guaranteed. The University of Gadjah Mada, in cooperation with Oslo University, held a 2014 democracy survey. The result of the survey conducted on 600 respondents indicated that political participation of the public in Indonesia has certainly advanced.
There has been ongoing discourse regarding whether the next government should form a “fat” or “slim” Cabinet, but what we really need is a “smart” one. A smart Cabinet would ensure the government’s workability amid the country’s complexity. In our presidential system, the president is tasked with realizing his/her vision during his/her fixed term of five years. Therefore, the president’s Cabinet is a mere instrument to meet his/her promises. The idea of a smart Cabinet has become more important than ever as the governance paradigm here has shifted from controlling to steering. Its institutional setup has been highly decentralized.

Recent Publications

Why is Indonesia by late 2016 suddenly so far from Jokowi's Solo model of negotiating social contracts, which even produced a president in favour of change? And why are we now so far from the broad alliances of unions, CSOs and progressive politicians that produced a universal social insurance system? Why have the dynamics of Jakarta rather become more reminiscent of Donald Trump and European right-wing populist politicians’ ability to gain substantial support from not just extremists and racists but also the neglected working class? And what are the prospects, then, if any, for popular politics?  
This book engages readers with an analysis of democratisation and contestations of democracy in Indonesia. It observes the possible and necessary contextual practices within all political corners that transform welfare into a political issue. The book’s contributors not only present represent pro-democracy segment; they also share their experiences and skills to accelerate movement towards democracy. This book is a compilation of narrations outlining the struggle of pro-democracy actors to politicise democracy. It presents their variant strategies to direct democratisation toward welfare. Fifteen cases from several regions in Indonesia demonstrate that democracy welfare cannot materialise without public control over welfare management.
In October 2014, Joko Widodo, or “Jokowi,” as he is popularly known, campaigned on a populist pro-democracy platform to become the new president of Indonesia after a bitter election campaign against oligarch Prabowo Subianto, a former military officer who was supported by leaders of the former Suharto regime. Jokowi’s victory illustrates both the real achievements and profound limitations of Indonesian democracy. Fortunately, it also highlights possibilities for substantive reform.


PWD Logo

A collaboration of:

UGM Logo UiO Logo

Supported by: