15 Jul 2011

Indonesia under Sukarno

Indonesia under Sukarno

The new republic had been planned as a federation of 16 constituent regions, but was made unitary in 1950. This led to dominance by Java (which has two-thirds of Indonesia's population), provoking revolts in Sumatra and the predominantly Christian South Maluku. Until approximately 1957 Indonesia experimented with a broadly democratic constitution, in the Western sense, but the general elections in 1955 failed to throw up any clear majority party, though the PKI did very well. The years since independence had been marked by conflicts between Communists, Muslims, and regional groups and minorities, accompanied by a series of attempted coups, rebel governments, and violent confrontations.Sukarno accordingly introduced the policy of ‘Guided Democracy’ in 1957. A relatively stable period followed due to an alliance between Sukarno, the PKI, and the army. From then until his loss of effective power in 1965 Sukarno pursued an anti-imperialist and nationalist policy, became a prominent member of the non-aligned movement, and nationalized foreign enterprises.
However, by the 1960s, inflation was running at 650% per annum as, under Sukarno's increasingly authoritarian rule, foreign debts accumulated. International relations were strained and Indonesia left the United Nations and moved increasingly into the Soviet sphere. Soviet-supplied arms were used in the confrontation with the Dutch over the recovery of Irian Jaya in 1960–62 and with Malaysia over Borneo in 1963.

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