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Indonesia on the way to becoming a federal state?

by Dr. Henning Lustermann

Indonesia has been in a political upheaval since May 1998. Individual provinces striving for autonomy are demanding independence and the associated withdrawal from the previously existing unitary state. However, the government has so far regarded adherence to the strictly unitary principle as indispensable. In 1999 and 2000, the vertical state organization of the Republic of Indonesia was reformed to balance the federal interests of the provinces with the unitary constraints of the central government. These reforms are rejected by a broad political front as "too federal" because of what it considers the secessionist dangers involved. But do the reforms really transform Indonesia into a fundamentally federal state structure model, a federal state? The author examines Indonesia's reformed vertical state organization and assigns it to a concrete structural model according to criteria of general state theory.

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