Saturday, April 25, 2009

Indonesian Politics and Economic Crisis

Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world. Recent elections indicate fundamentalist Islamic parties are out of favor. That stemmed the previous tide. The NYT reported:

While Indonesia has a long tradition of moderation, it was badly destabilized with the end of military rule in 1998, which gave rise to Islamist politicians who preached righteousness and to some hard-core elements, who practiced violence. The country has only recently achieved a measure of stability.
What else happened during that time? Indonesia endured economic crisis. The World Bank reported other negative impacts:

During the Asian crisis, Indonesia’s total public investment in infrastructure dropped from about 7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 1995-97 to 2 percent in 2000, and private investment from 2.5 percent of GDP to 0.09 percent during the same period.

Did the IMF contribute to the problem with its intervention? Economic conditions impact the populace. Angry citizens may resonate with bombastic political parties.

What happens when war and its horrific burdens are added to the mix? The NYT contrasted Indonesia with Gaza and Lebanon. The latter two experienced month long wars at the hands of Israel, their democratic neighbor. What role does intentional death and destruction play in citizen voting patterns? In recent elections America went more moderate, while conservatives gained in Israel.

The economic crisis is global. Violence is a mainstay in many regions of the world. The Indonesian people endured economic hardship and voted for moderation. How will the rest of the world respond?