Indonesia History Since Independence

Indonesia History Since Independence



The Japanese occupation of the Dutch Indies (➔ Indies) during World War II gave the final impetus to the national struggle and on August 17, 1945, shortly after the surrender of Japan, A. Sukarno, leader of Indonesia’s nationalist party, proclaimed the independence of the islands of Java, Sumatra and Madura, to which the Dutch opposed repeated attempts to give rise to separatist regimes almost everywhere, up to the use of arms (1947). But the incessant guerrilla warfare, the threatening attitude of the Asian governments (especially the Indian one) and the intervention of the UN Security Council led the Hague government to abandon the game. First united with the Netherlands as a confederal republic in the framework of a Dutch-Indonesian Union (1949) with the head of state Sukarno, Indonesia it completely broke away from the former motherland in 1956, becoming a unitary Republic.

Sukarno and Suharto

The new state immediately had an agitated life: the extreme fragmentation of the archipelago, with islands so large as to create in each a sense of its own state individuality, was the basis of various rebellions, which would later be a constant element of the life of the country. ; more serious was the guerrillas promoted by Darul Islam, a far-right Muslim movement that aimed at the formation of a theocratic state. For Indonesia history, please check

In the first Chamber of Deputies, no party had an absolute majority and it was necessary to resort to coalition cabinets between the two main parties, the Nationalist of secular and radical tendencies and the Muslim Masjumi. Their conflicting agendas soon made collaboration impossible, impeding the development of a coherent and long-term policy and keeping the country under the permanent threat of acts of force. To get out of the chronic crisis situation, in 1957 Sukarno started a regime of ‘guided democracy’, gradually assuming dictatorial powers and, after establishing the Republic presidential in 1959, in 1963 he proclaimed himself president for life relying on the strong Indonesian Communist Party, which he opened the entrance to the government in 1964; at the same time, he decided to leave the UN (1965; Indonesia will return the following year) and forged ever stronger relations with China.

A failed coup attempt by the Communists in 1965 offered the military an opportunity to seize power, outlaw the Communists and unleash a bloody crackdown. Sukarno was dismissed and General Suharto became head of the government, who since 1968 was elected President of the Republic several times. Suharto gave birth to a relatively dynamic regime from an economic point of view, but authoritarian and corrupt: his liberal policy, while contributing to the development of the country, was marked by an open nepotism, object of criticism both internally, where growth economic it had favored the expansion of a vast middle class active in the demands for democratization of the country, both abroad. In 1998, following a wave of brutally repressed popular protests and international pressure, including for the violation of human rights, Suharto was finally forced to resign and was replaced by Vice President BJ Habibie, who called the first democratic elections.

The transition to democracy

The transition to a democratic regime was complex. Bloody inter-ethnic and inter-religious clashes broke out across the country, causing hundreds of victims. The situation in East Timor was particularly serious, a former Portuguese colony unilaterally annexed by Indonesia in 1976, where the independence movements and their repression cost the life of almost a third of the population. The presidential elections sanctioned the victory of the moderate Muslim leader A. Wahid, who tried to promote a policy of national reconciliation. The poor economic successes and the resurgence of ethnic and religious violence, particularly in the Moluccas between Muslims and Christians, and the secessionist guerrillas in the Aceh region in 2001 forced him to resign. He was succeeded by DP Megawati Setiawati Sukarnoputri (known as Megawati), daughter of Sukarno, former vice president and leader of the Indonesian Democratic Party of struggle, moderate grouping of nationalists and Christians who won the 1999 legislative elections.

The low incisiveness of the government and the resurgence of clashes between the army and independence movements in the province of Aceh and in the western part of New Guinea, which in any case gained greater internal autonomy, caused a growing mistrust of Megawati; its popularity was also affected by the uncertain position taken on Islamic terrorism, which in October 2002 scored the first of a series of bloody attacks on the island of Bali, which continued in the following years while anti-Western protest grew in the country.

In the 2004 elections, the ruling party had a drastic drop in support and was overtaken by Golkar, the party of former dictator Suharto. The presidential elections were won by the leader of the new Democratic Party S. Bambang Yudhoyono, immediately called to face the consequences of the tsunami of December 2004. A success of his presidency was the signing (2005) of a peace agreement with the secessionist guerrillas of Aceh, which subsequently produced a demilitarization of the region and allowed the holding of the first free local elections (2006). In 2009, in the consultations to elect the 560 deputies, the chamber of regions and the regional and district assemblies, the Democratic Party of Bambang Yudhoyono again won the majority of the votes, reporting instead a clear defeat in the consultations held in April 2014, at which obtained only 9.6% of the votes, while the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle was the first party in the country Sukarnoputri (PDI-P), with about 19% of the votes, followed by Golkar (14.3%) and Gerindra (Great Indonesia Movement Party), with 11.7%. The presidential elections held in July 2014 saw the victory of J. Widodo, governor of Jakarta, who prevailed with 53% of the preferences over his opponent P. Subianto; who took over from outgoing president Bambang Yudhoyono in October, he was reconfirmed for a second term in the presidential elections in April 2019.

Indonesia History Since Independence