Originally written for the Jakarta Globe.
Jakarta. Indonesia’s ranking in the 2017 Democracy Index, published on Wednesday (31/01) dropped 20 places to 68th, thanks to the highly divisive Jakarta gubernatorial election, the annual index’s publisher, the Economist Intelligence Units, or EIU, said.
Last year, Anies Baswedan, who is now Jakarta governor, defeated former governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama — now imprisoned for blasphemy against Islam — in an election marred by religious divisions.
Last year’s gubernatorial race saw Anies’s supporters play religion and race cards — Ahok is an ethnic Chinese and a Christian — to win the election.
“Democracy in Indonesia suffered a setback following the [gubernatorial] poll in Jakarta,” the report said.
A key focus of this year’s report was press freedom, and the global challenges surrounding freedom of speech.
Asia’s biggest emerging democracy, India, also suffered a significant drop in the index – from 32nd to 42nd. The Philippines ranked 51st and Malaysia 59th.
Overall, Asia was the worst-performing region last year, with North Korea remaining bottom of the list.
“It was a year of democratic backsliding for Asia,” the EIU’s director for Asia Duncan Innes-Ker said in a statement received by the Jakarta Globe.
Featured image via Reuters Photo/Beawiharta.