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Title: Quibbles and quarrels : opposition disunity in Indonesia and Egypt's democratic uprisings.
Authors: Cohen, Nathan.
Keywords: DRNTU::Humanities
Issue Date: 2013
Abstract: President Hosni Mubarak's resignation in February 2011 left Egypt and the world wondering, "What comes next?" Scholars and government officials sought to find answers and draw lessons from Indonesia's experience after President Suharto resigned in May 1998 (Belford, 2011; Sidel, 2012; Hamish, 2011; Mahmoud, 2011). Indonesia relished its role as an example of a (relatively) peaceful transition from dictatorship to democracy. B.J. Habibie, the first post-Suharto president of Indonesia, addressed precisely this topic at the Indonesian embassy in Cairo in June 2011 (Habibie, 2011). Despite the multitude of similarities between the revolutions, however, the initial transition years diverged sharply. On 21 May 1998 President Suharto handed the reins to B.J. Habibie, the man who affectionately called Suharto "SGS" as an acronym for Super Genius Suharto (Schwarz, 2004, p. 372). Though almost universally unpopular, Habibie served for over a year. Even after Indonesia's first presidential elections in 1999, many of the Suharto elites remained in positions of power and influence. In contrast, Egypt's revolution has shunted aside many of the Mubarak's regime most prominent figures. Former Prime Ministers, such as Ahmed Shafik, live in exile for fear of imprisonment. Former oligarchs, such as Ahmed Ezz, are in jail. Even custodians of the revolution, such as former Minister of Defense Field Marshal Tantawi, are forcibly retired. Egyptians still complain offelool, a derisive term that refers to the remnants of the Mubarak regime. Yet undoubtedly they have conducted a more successful purge than the Indonesians. This thesis attempts to explain: why have Suharto' s cronies not only survived, but thrived after Suharto fell, while Mubarak's cronies were, at least initially, marginalized and penalized? It does so by focusing on the degree of unity of the former opposition groups that come to power in both cases. I define unity as the combination of internal cohesion, the extent to which the group's leadership feels secure from rivals within the group, and external alliance capabilities, the extent to which the group can attract other opposition groups. The same three elite groups felled Suharto and Mubarak: the military, the Islamic groups, and the established secular elite, while the youth provided the impetus for the revolutions. However, Indonesia's fissiparous opposition elites lacked cohesion and alliance capability. Therefore, each former opposition group that came to power could not afford to purge Suharto' s felool. Egypt's opposition elites, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood and President Morsi' s affiliated administration, enjoyed more unity both in terms of cohesion and alliance capability. Thus unburdened the Muslim Brotherhood could focus on removing the Mubarak era elite. This examination of elite unity will be chronologically qualified. My focus on Indonesia's transition concludes with the end of the Megawati Sukarnoputri administration in 2005; the presidency of the Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (2004-2014) falls outside of this paper's scope. Yudhoyono's election took place six years after Suharto's downfall and can thus hardly be considered a transitional stage. Similarly, while I attempt to incorporate the latest developments in Egypt, my primary focus is the Egyptian transition until the fall of 2012. Admittedly this timeline precludes several major events, such as the constitutional referendum. However, this is a necessary precaution because such recent developments, like the referendum, are frequently reversed in the throes of a transition's chaos. A brief epilogue addresses the most recent changes in Egyptian politics.The paper is divided into four sections. The first section reviews the existing literature pertaining to democratic transitions. Drawing from scholars' previous work, I provide a theoretical basis for my focus on opposition elites. The second section justifies the comparison between Indonesia in 1998 and Egypt in 2011. The remarkable similarities make the divergent outcomes all the more worthy of closer examination. The third section establishes the assertion that the Suharto regime elites are significantly more resilient than their Mubarak regime counterparts. The fourth section details the divisions within the Indonesian opposition elite and their ramifications. It contrasts this disunity with the unity, in both its internal and external variants, of Egypt's military and the Muslim Brotherhood.
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Appears in Collections:RSIS Theses

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