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Political institutions in Indonesia: Democracy, decentralisation, diversity

28-01-2020

Until his downfall in 1998, General Suharto ruled Indonesia with an iron fist. Since then, a series of reforms have transformed his authoritarian 'New Order' into the world's third largest democracy (and largest Muslim democracy). Indonesia has a presidential system in which a directly elected president serves as both head of state and of government. A maximum two-term limit on the presidency helps to ensure a peaceful alternation of power. Also directly elected, the House of Representatives (the ...

Until his downfall in 1998, General Suharto ruled Indonesia with an iron fist. Since then, a series of reforms have transformed his authoritarian 'New Order' into the world's third largest democracy (and largest Muslim democracy). Indonesia has a presidential system in which a directly elected president serves as both head of state and of government. A maximum two-term limit on the presidency helps to ensure a peaceful alternation of power. Also directly elected, the House of Representatives (the lower house of the bicameral People's Consultative Assembly) has asserted itself as a strong and independent institution. There are nine parliamentary parties, none of which holds a majority, obliging the government to seek support from a broad coalition. Despite the success of Indonesia's political reforms, its commitment to democratic values cannot be taken for granted. Although Indonesia has traditionally been a tolerant, multicultural society, a rising tide of Islamic populism threatens to disrupt the delicate balance between the country's Muslim majority and minorities such as Christians and Buddhists. The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has had some success in tackling endemic graft in the country's courts, local governments and Parliament; however, the latter recently voted to weaken the KPK's powers. While trust in democratic institutions declines, the military – whose commitment to democratic values has often been questionable – is becoming increasingly influential.

Parliamentary hearings of the Commissioners-designate: A decisive step in the investiture process

23-09-2019

The hearings of the Commissioners-designate before the European Parliament's committees are a necessary ingredient in informing Parliament's decision to give its consent to, or reject, the proposed college. Each Commissioner-designate appears before a single hearing, involving one or more parliamentary committees, after responding to a written questionnaire and presenting his or her declaration of interests. In past hearings, the main points of criticism have been some candidates’ lack of specialist ...

The hearings of the Commissioners-designate before the European Parliament's committees are a necessary ingredient in informing Parliament's decision to give its consent to, or reject, the proposed college. Each Commissioner-designate appears before a single hearing, involving one or more parliamentary committees, after responding to a written questionnaire and presenting his or her declaration of interests. In past hearings, the main points of criticism have been some candidates’ lack of specialist knowledge of their portfolio, their vague answers and reluctance to make commitments, the existence of possible conflicts of interests in relation to the assigned portfolio and concerns regarding the integrity of the candidate. From the 2004 investiture on, Parliament has used its role in the appointment of the Commission to press for the replacement of certain controversial candidates and to force adjustments to certain portfolios, although it can only reject or accept the college as a whole. Whilst some experts warn of excessive politicisation of the hearings, others welcome the increased accountability of the Commission to Parliament, and see the deepening political link between the two as a step towards further democratisation of the EU decision-making process. Hearings have become critical for Parliament's holding the Commission to account, and are gaining in significance as a means for Parliament to take a greater role in agenda-setting at EU level. This is a further updated and expanded version of a 2014 briefing by Eva-Maria Poptcheva.

Nepal, Bhutan and their neighbours: Two Himalayan countries landlocked between India and China

05-04-2019

Nepal and Bhutan are two poor landlocked Himalayan countries, sandwiched between a democracy and an authoritarian one-party state: India and China. After an authoritarian past, during the last decade, they have begun reforms in order to switch towards a democratic model. After a long and complicated path, Nepal succeeded in adopting a new constitution in 2015. Its first post-constitution government is run by an alliance of communist parties. In Bhutan, the king has successfully steered the country ...

Nepal and Bhutan are two poor landlocked Himalayan countries, sandwiched between a democracy and an authoritarian one-party state: India and China. After an authoritarian past, during the last decade, they have begun reforms in order to switch towards a democratic model. After a long and complicated path, Nepal succeeded in adopting a new constitution in 2015. Its first post-constitution government is run by an alliance of communist parties. In Bhutan, the king has successfully steered the country towards democratisation, as confirmed by the October 2018 general elections. While historically the two countries have nurtured solid relations with India, in recent years Beijing has expanded its footprint in the region considerably, challenging Delhi's traditional sphere of influence and increasing its sense of encirclement. In 2017 this led to a crisis referred to as the 'Doklam Plateau standoff'. There is currently a window of opportunity for Nepal and Bhutan to diversify their economic and security partnership and to rebalance their foreign policies between their two big neighbours. The EU has been supporting the two countries on their democratic journey and tripled resources for both countries' development for the 2014-2020 period. As they are among the world's poorest countries, Nepal and Bhutan benefit from the EU's 'Everything But Arms' scheme, which grants full duty free and quota free access to the EU single market for all products.

Implementing the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement

05-12-2018

Four years after the signing of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement (AA) and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA), and two years after their full entry into force, Parliament is now assessing their implementation. The report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs welcomes a number of positive developments in Ukraine, but also points to shortcomings. Parliament will debate the issue during its December plenary session.

Four years after the signing of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement (AA) and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA), and two years after their full entry into force, Parliament is now assessing their implementation. The report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs welcomes a number of positive developments in Ukraine, but also points to shortcomings. Parliament will debate the issue during its December plenary session.

Democratic Transition and Linguistic Minorities in Estonia and Latvia

16-05-2018

Upon request by the PETI Committee, the Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs commissioned this in-depth analysis on Democratic Transition and Linguistic Minorities in Estonia and Latvia. The writer claims that in order to understand the situation of political representation rights of ethnic and linguistic minorities in Estonia and Latvia it is essential to provide a historical-political framework that contextualizes the presence of such substantial minorities in the ...

Upon request by the PETI Committee, the Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs commissioned this in-depth analysis on Democratic Transition and Linguistic Minorities in Estonia and Latvia. The writer claims that in order to understand the situation of political representation rights of ethnic and linguistic minorities in Estonia and Latvia it is essential to provide a historical-political framework that contextualizes the presence of such substantial minorities in the two countries and justifies the type of relationship existing with the majority of nation holder. He also suggests that from one side, full integration is the goal that needs to be pursued, while at the same time it's important to ensure the cultural and national values of Latvians and Estonians.

Išorės autorius

Angela DI GREGORIO

Zimbabwe: Beginning of a new era?

31-01-2018

Following the forced resignation on 21 November 2017 of President Robert Mugabe, after 37 years in power, the new President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was sworn in on 24 November 2017. President Mnangagwa has since then expressed his commitment to free and fair elections, his willingness to fight corruption and to re-engage with the international community in order to attract foreign investment and revive the economy.

Following the forced resignation on 21 November 2017 of President Robert Mugabe, after 37 years in power, the new President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was sworn in on 24 November 2017. President Mnangagwa has since then expressed his commitment to free and fair elections, his willingness to fight corruption and to re-engage with the international community in order to attract foreign investment and revive the economy.

Tunisia: Progress achieved and prospects for the social dimension

30-11-2017

In 2011, following the outbreak of protests – known as the Jasmine Revolution – which toppled President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's regime, Tunisia embarked on a path to democratic transition and socio-economic transformation, emulating the reforms and governance practices of established liberal democracies. Nearly eight years on, the country has made significant progress, including in the social sphere, and has emerged as a regional leader in institutional reform. However, to avoid jeopardising the ...

In 2011, following the outbreak of protests – known as the Jasmine Revolution – which toppled President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's regime, Tunisia embarked on a path to democratic transition and socio-economic transformation, emulating the reforms and governance practices of established liberal democracies. Nearly eight years on, the country has made significant progress, including in the social sphere, and has emerged as a regional leader in institutional reform. However, to avoid jeopardising the stability and progress achieved, further reforms are needed.