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Democratic Transitions and Internal Political Conflict in Southeast Asia

Strategic Security Analysis - 2015 n°12


Robin Ramcharan

Release Date:

December 2015

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Key Points

  • Democracy in form has advanced in Southeast Asia over the past two decades. ASEAN has adopted democratic governance as a regional norm.
  • The transition to democracy has been rocky and has occasioned much political unrest and violence. The experience in Southeast Asia bears out research that points to the prevalence of violence in periods of transition.
  • The advancement and consolidation of democracy may be in regression in Southeast Asia. The exception is Indonesia, which seems to be consolidating its democracy since the fall of General Suharto.
  • Factors that must be addressed effectively in the multi-ethnic societies of Southeast Asia in order to avert violence in periods of transition include: electoral integrity, security sector reform, corruption, decentralisation of governance and socio-economic grievances.
  • Enhanced human rights protection mechanisms are critical for a non-violent future for the region.