The Pemuda in Politics

The Repertoires of the Student Protest Marches in Indonesia in 1998
By Romain Bertrand

Student protests in Indonesia during the first half of 1998 were not the main reason for the fall of President Suharto: the New Order regime actually collapsed because the alliance between the army, the Moslem rural bourgeoisie, and the business community broke down following the 1997 financial crisis. However, the student protests portray something that we have to keep in mind if we are to make sense of political change in Indonesia: namely, that the protesters made use of a culturally specific (egalitarian and nationalistic) repertoire of politics that led to the “reindigenization” of the call for democracy by rooting it in former local experiences.


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