Journal Article

Indonesia's quasi-federalist approach: Accommodation amid strong integrationist tendencies

Jacques Bertrand

in International Journal of Constitutional Law

Published on behalf of The New York University School of Law

Volume 5, issue 4, pages 576-605
Published in print October 2007 | ISSN: 1474-2640
Published online October 2007 | e-ISSN: 1474-2659 | DOI:
Indonesia's quasi-federalist approach: Accommodation amid strong integrationist tendencies

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From early independence, the Indonesian state emphasized the building of a strong nation. This republican integrationism worked for the most part; where it did not, as in Aceh and Papua1 provinces, resistance was repressed harshly. Since 1998, however, Indonesia has adopted a more accommodationist strategy in dealing with ethnonationalist groups. Thus, Aceh and Papua each have been the subject of laws that go a long way toward satisfying ethnic demands for accommodation: namely, Law no. 11, 2006 on Acehnese government, which emerged from a peace agreement with the Free Aceh Movement; and a special law regarding Papuan autonomy, in place since January 2002. From a strong unitarist approach, the Indonesian state has moved toward a quasi-federal form, while resisting any tendency toward a pluralist federation. This asymmetrical arrangement is probably the most stabilizing feature of the Indonesian polity, preserving its successful integrationism for most of its territory while introducing accommodation where integration failed. However, there are many factors that mitigate the effectiveness of the special autonomy laws, especially that pertaining to Papua, and it remains uncertain whether and how the Indonesian state can preserve the balance and address remaining sources of contention.

Journal Article.  13230 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law ; UK Politics

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