Why populist rule sustains during times of crisis: COVID-19, democracy and the state in Indonesia

Muhammad Asfar, I. Gede Wahyu Wicaksana, Ais Shafiyah Asfar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article explains why populist rule persists during the challenging times of COVID-19, yet democratic order is unfavourably affected. The authors observe the recent debates on the state government's crisis response and performance, which argue for democracy over populism in managing critical moments. Populists did not do well since they had taken simplistic and anti-science actions on COVID-19. Nonetheless, populism remains popular and populist leaders continue to stay in office. We offer an analysis of the case of Indonesia under the presidency of Joko Widodo (Jokowi). Our research draws upon Michael Mann's theory of the state to uncover the underlying social realities enabling populist regime sustainability. The main argument is that the complex and dynamic state–society power relations shape the ground on which populist rule survives the crisis, but democracy declines. Jokowi's Indonesia confirms this claim.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAsian Journal of Comparative Politics
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • democratic regression
  • Indonesia
  • Jokowi's populism
  • state–society power relations

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