DISC Lecture: How Indonesia became a Constitutional Democracy and What it Means for Constitutional Processes and Democratic Institutions

May 10, 2013 - 16:00 - 17:30
Nador u. 9, Monument Building
Popper Room
Event type: 
Event audience: 
Donald L. Horowitz
CEU organizer(s): 
Carsten Q. Schneider
CEU contact person: 
Carsten Q. Schneider
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Donald L. Horowitz

As part of the DISC Workshop "Status Quo Vadis - Political Institutions in Divided Societies" [Link], we are honored to welcome Professor Donald L. Horowitz. In his guest lecture, Prof. Horowitz will present his most recent book on "Constitutional Change and Democracy in Indonesia" and inquire into how Indonesia became a constitutional democracy and what it means for constitutional processes and democratic institutions.

After the fall of its authoritarian regime in 1998, Indonesia pursued an unusual course of democratization. It was insider-dominated and gradualist, and it involved free elections before a lengthy process of constitutional reform. At the end of the process, Indonesia's amended constitution was essentially a new and thoroughly democratic document. By proceeding as they did, the Indonesians averted the conflict that would have arisen between adherents of the old constitution and proponents of radical, immediate reform. Gradual reform also made possible the adoption of institutions that preserved pluralism and pushed politics toward the center. The resulting democracy has a number of prominent flaws, largely attributable to the process chosen, but is a better outcome than the most likely alternatives. Donald L. Horowitz documents the decisions that gave rise to this distinctive constitutional process. He then traces the effects of the new institutions on Indonesian politics and discusses their shortcomings as well as their achievements in steering Indonesia away from the dangers of polarization and violence, all the while placing the Indonesian story in the context of comparative experience with constitutional design and intergroup conflict.

Chair: Carsten Q. Schneider, Political Science Department and DISC, CEU

The lecture is followed by a reception.


Donald L. Horowitz is James B. Duke Professor of Law and Political Science at Duke University and a Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy. He has previously been a Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics and a Carnegie Scholar. Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he has served as president of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy. In 2009, Horowitz was presented with the Distinguished Scholar Award by the Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Migration Section of the International Studies Association, and in 2011 he was awarded an honorary doctoral degree by the Flemish-speaking Free University of Brussels. He is the author of six previous books, including The Courts and Social Policy, which won the Brownlow Prize of the National Academy of Public Administration; A Democratic South Africa?, winner of the Bunche Award of the American Political Science Association; and the acclaimed Ethnic Groups in Conflict. In 2013, Professor Horowitz will be a Fellow of the American Academy in Berlin, working on a book on constitutional design for divided societies, a subject on which he has advised in a number of countries.

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