Indonesia: Electoral Politics and the Internet
Hill, D.T. (2008) Indonesia: Electoral Politics and the Internet. In: Ward, S., Owen, D., Davis, R. and Taras, D, (eds.) Making a Difference: A Comparative View of the Role of the Internet in Election Politics. Lexington Books, Lanham, MD, pp. 75-92.
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In May 1998, Indonesia's second and longest-serving president, retired general Suharto, stepped aside in the face of sustained public demonstrations, and the world's fourth most populous nation emerged from more than three decades of authoritarianism. Suharto's overthrow came barely three years after subscriber Internet services arrived in Indonesia and only two years after public Internet cafes began fanning out across the archipelago, providing Internet access to those who could not afford personal computers. The internet did not directly cause the fall of the dictator, for the mix of economic, social and political factors that catalysed the oppositional groundswell was much more complex--but 'neither the fall of Suharto nor its aftermath can be described or fully understood without reference to this new mode of communication' (Hill and Sen, 2005, p.l6). Since Suharto's exit the Internet has continued to make a valuable, if less dramatic, contribution to the institutionalisation of democracy in Indonesia through its role in national elections, most strikingly in 1999 and, to a lesser extent in 2004.
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