Emeritus Professor of Political Science
In fewer than eight years, Indonesia, the world's most populous majority Muslim country, has made a remarkable transition from an authoritarian to a democratic political system. Against heavy odds, and despite bleak prognoses that this process and the country itself would collapse, Indonesia has developed many attributes of a consolidated democracy. As indicated by pervasive and endemic corruption, what has emerged in Indonesia, however, is a patrimonial democracy in which the rule of law is weak and the government's effective capacity to govern is limited.Although patrimonialism has deep roots in Indonesian political history, there are, however, growing signs that electoral competition, in particular, will 'improve' Indonesian democracy and push it in a more liberal direction. A new and rare Muslim democratic star may thus be rising in the Far East.