|Indonesia Table of Contents
Suharto's regime transformed and marginalized political parties, which, minus the PKI, still retained considerable popular support in the late 1960s. Party influence was diminished by limiting the parties' role in newly established legislative bodies, the DPR and the MPR, about 20 percent of whose members were appointed by the government. Parties were forced to amalgamate: in January 1973, four Islamic parties were obliged to establish a single body known as the Unity Development Party (PPP) and nonIslamic parties, including the PNI, were obliged to merge into the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI). Established by the armed forces in 1964, the Joint Secretariat of Functional Groups (Golkar) was given a central role in rallying popular support for the New Order in carefully staged national legislative elections.
Designed to bring diverse social groups into a harmonious organization based on "consensus," by 1969 Golkar had a membership of some 270 associations representing civil servants, workers, students, women, intellectuals, and other groups. Backed both financially and organizationally by the government, it had mastered Indonesia's political stage so completely by the 1970s that speculation centered not on whether it would gain a legislative majority, but on how large that majority would be and how the minority opposition vote would be divided between the PPP and the PDI. In the general elections of 1971, 1977, and 1982, Golkar won 62.8, 62.1, and 64.3 percent of the popular vote, respectively. As the 1980s progressed, Golkar continued to consolidate its electoral dominance.
In 1985 the legislature passed government-backed bills requiring all political parties and associations to declare their support for the Pancasila as their ideological foundation. Declaring such support was an extremely delicate issue for Muslim groups, including the PPP, since it attacked the basis of their identity (the government demanded that the Muslim parties not be exclusive and allow non-Muslim memberships). Although the Pancasila includes the principle of belief in a "supreme being," use of the term Maha Esa, rather than Allah, was designed to encompass diverse religious groups: Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists as well as Muslims. The Pancasila policy aroused strong opposition among politically active Muslims. Riots broke out in the Tanjung Priok port area of Jakarta on September 12, 1984, and a wave of bombings and arson took place in 1985. Targets included the Borobudur Buddhist temple, the palace of the Sunan of Surakarta, commercial districts in Jakarta, and the headquarters of the Indonesian state radio.
Voices of democratic opposition were heard May 5, 1980, when a group called the Petition of Fifty, composed of former generals, political leaders, academicians, students, and others, called for greater political freedom. In 1984 the group accused Suharto of attempting to establish a one-party state through his Pancasila policy. In the wake of the 1984-85 violence, one of the Petition of Fifty's leaders, Lieutenant General H.R. Dharsono, who had served as secretary general of ASEAN, was put on trial for antigovernment activities and sentenced to a ten-year jail term (from which he was released in 1990).
Source: U.S. Library of Congress