It is no doubt that democracy is a popular "slogan" introduced in the nowadays world. Developed countries such as the United States seriously try to persuade the developing and less developed countries to apply democracy in their nations. But, why is democracy? In response to this inquiry, one of the famous political writer and statesman, Tocqueville in his work, “Democracy in America” deeply discusses the democracy in reality with American style to show a particular type of democracy. He successfully catches the facts in detail about democracy in America and strongly strives to draw as closely as the reality.
The other monumental work about democracy is Samuel P. Huntington’s book, The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century. It illustrates a map of the international democratization up to the late of twentieth century. The map includes three waves of democratization and two reversals. Indonesia and the other third world countries, which are independent lately, fused in the second wave of democratization. Afterward Huntington inserts Indonesia as one of countries swapped by the second reversal wave of democratization. It means that Indonesia either is a non-democratic state or excluded from the issue of democratic state.
The evocative question is about the most valid parameter to determine whether a state is in the wave of democratization or in the authoritarianism or non-democratic domain. This question leads to various matters, particularly social-cultural ones: whether culture, religion, race, geographical site, level of education, level of economic welfare is determinant in the growth of consolidating democratic climate.
In terms of the relationship between religion and democracy, Islamic culture has been perceived as unsound for the growth of democracy. Therefore, the option for political system in the Muslim world, according to some observer like Fareed Zakaria and Saidiman, is not democracy. This assumption based on various facts regarding the failure of consolidating liberal democracy in several Muslim countries. In many cases, instead of carrying the wind of change for Muslim society, democracy becomes instrument for the emergence of religious fundamentalists and social friction. However, in the case of Indonesia, the emergence of Islamic party, such as Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (Prosperous Justice Party), has become an interesting phenomenon to observe. It is rooted from Islamic values but it may accommodate the current progress in political arena. Therefore, this party will be one of the main discussions in this paper besides the matter of democracy.
B. Aristocratic and Democratic Government: a General Comparison
In terms of laws, there is an obvious difference between democratic and aristocratic nations. In democratic countries, it would be possible to encounter the laws which seriously promote the welfare of the majority since that government are composed by the greatest number of society. Conversely, in aristocratic government, laws tend to serve the minority because by nature the authorities are in the hand of that small group. This fact is understandable for each type of government has an emphasis in their way of ruling the people.
Additionally, it is interesting to observe that the aristocratic countries have more experience in applying the science of legislation which may result in a self-protection from various mistakes. Based on their long lesson of life, they could control the country well. As a rough indication, the people obey their rule faithfully even though under several oppression. The democratic ones in contrast often experience errors in making the laws due to the lack of knowledge. It can be seen in the case of the United States as well as in Indonesia, the tools of democracy in that country is not so perfect that it frequently does err in choosing the individuals as their leaders, for instance, the leader is less honesty and less capacity. By choosing such a person, it may potentially lead the country to the devastation caused by corruption and manipulation. Nevertheless, people of America have some good characters which may control the government. So to speak, they are educated and enlightened civil society. Therefore, when they conceive that the leader tend to coerce the people, they may, in the name of freedom and equality, directly protest and show their reactions. It is possible to happen since democracy mostly guarantees the interest of majority of people. As a result, people of America obey the laws not only due to their work but because it may be changed if it is considered harmful for humanity. However, in Indonesia, people were not possible to do such actions under new order regime. The government dominantly controlled the activities of the citizens. Therefore, as a result, the fall of Suharto in 1997 was the real clue of the emergence of the intention of freedom to control the government.
C. Unlimited Power of Majority
The idea of majority emerges since the meaning of democracy is ruled by the people. As the definition suggests, a democratic government prefers to fulfill the needs and welfare of the greatest citizens. Dealing with this matter, Tocqueville shows the notion that "more intelligent and wisdom in a number of men united in a single individual and the number of legislators is more important than their quality". The majority power is established by the preference of the many to the few. It is much different from the situation in aristocracy. King in England, for instance, was the only source of power and always clean and never to do wrong. If any, the blame was addressed to the advisers. Since the power is centered in a person or group, the majority is difficult to emerge in aristocracy.
However, the power of majority may be the potentially triggering factors of tyranny. Democracy then is possible to be harmful for itself and the future moreover if the power is unlimited. Tocqueville undoubtedly believes that only God who has the omnipotence. Hence, the germ of tyranny should be eliminated. In addition, Tocqueville says that the major evil of democracy in America does not happen because of its weakness, but due to its strength. Despite it is unproven to say that tyranny is frequently used by American democracy, it is unavoidable to claim that there is no obstacles against it.
To make clear the distinction between tyranny and arbitrary, it can be observed from each character. Tyranny is exercised by means of law while arbitrary is measured by the public good. It means that a government can be accused as a tyranny if it implements the laws which support their policies. In contrast, a government can be called as arbitrary if it produces the opposite to the society's need.
The tyranny of legislature and executive are obviously fearing danger even though it needs time to occur. In response to this phenomenon, some solutions should be introduced. Legal profession is one promising factor to mitigate the tyranny of majority. Since the authority is entrusted to the member of such a profession, it may easily influence the government's way to manage the country. Legal profession through its powerful security can exercise the government as a way of protection from the negative impact of democracy. Interestingly, the government of democracy is in line with the political power of lawyers. The wealthy, the noble and the prince could be excluded from the government in favor of lawyers' position. In addition, the people in such country fully trust the legal profession since they are famous for serving the public good. In my view, the legal habits in Indonesia nowadays is quite helpful in maintaining the democracy. But, it is not the only way to minimize the emergence of tyranny. The education and enlightenment of people as well as the encouragement to be equal are the challenge of majority.
D. Islamic Party in Indonesia: the Case of Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (The Prosperous Justice party)
1. Brief History of Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (PKS)
Prosperous Justice Party (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera - PKS) is the transformation of Justice Party (Partai Keadilan – PK), which was established on 20 July 1998 in Jakarta. In the 1999 general election PK won 1.4 million votes. This resulted in 7 seats in the National Parliament level, 26 seats in the provincial level and 163 seats in the district level. The first president of PK, Nurmahmudi Isma'il, jointed the Cabinet as The State Minister for Forestry and Plantation. Immediately after his appointment as State Minister, Hidayat Nur Wahid succeeded Isma’il as President of PK.
In the lead to the 2004 elections, the party has declared its commitment to fulfill the quota for women in its proposed legislative candidates. PKS believes that the future of Indonesia lies in the hands of a new and qualified generation with good integrity and moral values, excellent intellectual capacity and professional skills. Therefore, PKS is very concern with improvements towards justice and prosperity for all Indonesians. In the 2004 general election PKS was able to substantially increase its influence by winning 45 seats in the National parliament level. Now in 2009, this party has succesfully collected 57 seats in DPR. This shows that this parties may become an important ruling party in the future.
2. Basic Policy of PKS
In general, the basic policy adopted by PKS is entirely reflected in its manifestation as a Da’wah Party. Da’wah (Islamic mission), as understood by PKS, is to provide guidance to the humankind in order for them to get to know their God (rabbaniyah) and aimed to providing solutions to all the problems that they encounter (rahmatan lil ‘alamin). It is the da’wah of this definition that will brings us towards a just brotherhood within humanity, regardless of race and religion. Based on this principle, da’wah has always been at the core of each and every activity carried out by the Party. It has also shaped up the characteristics of the roles of the Party’s activists in the political arena. For that reason, the principles that represent the characteristics of da’wah have been the basis on which the Party’s political policies and operational activities are based.
3. PKS: between Islam and Democracy
PKS can be distinguished from all the other political parties that participated in the 1999 election in that it is not associated with any established political figure from
either the Old Order of Sukarno or the New Order of Suharto. PKS is committed both to democracy and to the establishment of a government that implements policies based on Islamic values. In its founding charter PKS identifies seven principles for political action: Morality, Professionalism, Patriotism, Moderation, Democracy, Reform and Independence.
However, there is tension between the commitment to democracy and Islam. As Collins reports in her article, Fachry Hamzah, one of the founders of KAMMI, who is now a PKS legislator, says that KAMMI’s political objective is “a state based on Islamic law. . . Today democracy is our playing field, but we cannot abandon our religious ambitions.”
The platform of PKS emphasizes the moral nature of the struggle for Islam. As one source put it, “PKS has consistently campaigned for the urgent need of greater morality. The party reiterates time and again that the present chaos in Indonesia is caused primarily by a lack of morality among the nation’s leaders.”
The suspicion of politics as divisive and tainted with self interest is dealt with through a much quoted analogy: “A political party is simply a means like a glass containing water. If the water is poisonous, then politics would be dangerous. But if the glass is filled with the “honey” of Islam, politics would be the solution to achieving real peace for the people of the world. PKS stresses the unity of all Muslims. The party aims to “breakdown the political partitions and differences within the Indonesian Muslim community of faithful.”Also central to the identity of PKS is its commitment to the defense of Muslims under attack. When the Christian-Muslim riots that broke out in January 1999 in Ambon spread to other areas of Maluku, KISDI unleashed its most inflammatory rhetoric calling for jihad.
The violent clashes between Christians and Muslims were presented as a full-scale attack against the Islamic community. KAMMI and HAMMAS joined in stridently protesting the government’s failure to act in defense of Muslims. PKS published a kind of “white book” on the Ambon riots in which they claimed that the number of Muslim victims was far above the amount officially announced by the police.
PKS supporters in their distinctive uniforms and disciplined formations were major participants in the mass jihad rally that took place in Yogyakarta in March 1999. In the June 1999 election PKS won seven seats in the national legislature (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat or DPR) and emerged as the seventh largest party with 1,437,000 votes (1.36%). Ten years later, in 2009 General Election, PKS became the fourth popular party, numbering at 7.88% of national votes.
PKS positioned itself as the party of reform. When the legislature was convened, PKS joined with PAN, in a “Reformasi Faction .” This decision surprised many because PAN was technically a nationalist party, not an Islamic party. PKS’s decision appears to have been a pragmatic one. The Reformasi Faction became the fifth largest
faction in the legislature with 41 seats, bypassing the military faction with 38 seats.
Secondly, the coalition with PAN provided a training ground for young PKS leaders. Less pragmatic was PKS’s announcement that it would not accept a seat in Abdurrahman’s Wahid’s cabinet, so that it could retain its role as a critical opposition party.
When PKS’s chairman, Nur Mahmudi Ismail decided to accept the position of Minister of Forestry and Plantations, he gave up membership in PKS.The Reformasi Faction of PAN and PKS opposed a return to the Jakarta Charter (Piagam
Jakarta), which would impose Islamic law on Indonesian Muslims.”
This marked an important split with “Islamist” parties and demonstrated PKS’s commitment to equal rights for non-Muslims. PKS chairman Hidayat Nur Wahid explained that PKS was committed to the Piagam Madina, which refers to concepts in the Qur’an such as equality, rule of law, justice, and Islamic social services.
However, in 2002, when the same issue was raised in the MPR, PKS abstained from voting.PKS joined the Islamist parties protesting President Abdurrahman Wahid’s announcement that he would open diplomatic relations with Israel and his proposal to eliminate the 1966 law banning the Communist Party. Opposition to the President also focused on his inability to stem the on-going violence in Maluku.
PKS and KAMMI took the lead in organizing demonstrations targeting the president for two corruption scandals. Although Abdurrahman Wahid was not personally implicated in corruption, KAMMI and PKS also played a leading role in the campaign to impeach him, which was supported by elites associated with KISDI and the New Order.
This led to accusations that PKS was being manipulated by political elites. When Gus Dur was forced out of office in August 2000, PKS confronted a new issue. In 1999, PKS had taken the position that according to Islam a woman could not be president if male leaders were available. In 2000 PKS made a pragmatic decision not to oppose Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri on the grounds that constitutionally (and following the logic of democracy) she was the legitimate President. Under Megawati, PKS returned to its role as the party of reform, targeting the new President for her failure to fight corruption.
Once again KAMMI took the lead in organizing demonstrations. As in the case of demonstrations against President Abdurrahman Wahid, KAMMI was accused of
“playing politics,” that is, of allowing itself to be used by political elites with their own
interests. While PKS has not succeeded in winning strong support from other Muslim organizations in the campaign against corruption, demonstrations organized in support of Muslims in Palestine and against the American attack on Iraq have attracted supporters beyond the base of PKS on university campuses and in dakwah organizations. In the aftermath of the Bali Bombing in October 2002, PKS and KAMMI joined radical militant Islamist organizations—Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia (MMI), Laskar Jihad (LJ), the Jakarta-based Front for the Defense of Islam (Front Pembela Islam or FPI), known for mounting violent attacks on clubs and bars in the capital—and HAMMAS and KISDI, in demanding the release of Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, accused of being the leader of Jamaah Islamiyah. PKS leaders also joined representatives of Islamic parties, who visited Abu Bakar Ba’asyir while he was in police custody in hospital. Roqib, PKS representative for North Lampung said that Ba’asyir had conveyed the message that ties with the US are haram (forbidden) because the US has been conspiring with Zionist Israel to pressure the faithful.”
PKS leaders and supporters generally accept the view that Muslims are under attack by forces in the West, particularly the governments of Israel and America. However, in the view of Hidayat Nur Wahid, PKS is a centrist party. In his mapping of the political spectrum of Muslim organizations, he places Salafy groups on the extreme left as rejecting democracy as un-Islamic, followed by Hizbut Tahrir, which also views
democracy as un-Islamic but rejects the use of violence. Next on the spectrum comes
Masjumi and those who support the Jakarta Charter and believe that because Indonesia is a majority Muslim country, it should be an Islamic state. In the middle is PKS. On its right are Muhammadiyah and NU, which reject the slogan “Islam is the solution” but struggle for a better society through political means.
PKS is largely a party of university students and graduates. It has been accused of having an “exclusive” image which does not invite outsiders to participate. Informal discussions with professors, students, activists and middle class informants in Palembang, Padang, and Semarang suggest that PKS has not yet expanded its base beyond a segment of the university population.
Hidayat Nur Wahid, PKS’s chairman, explains that this is because the aim of PKS is not to obtain political power but to educate the public through dakwah
(tarbiyah) about what a government based on the moral principles of Islam would look
like. He says, “. . .what we want to achieve is welfare, glory, goodness and prosperity for the whole nation . . . because we are a party based on cadres and on religious propagation we have seen significant growth.”
Hidayat Nur Wahid explains that the party is based on cadre who can act as leaders and teachers. He maintains that PKS does not want to recruit a mass following that does not understand what the party stands for. Rather, PKS wants to have a voice in government. Emphasizing the unity of Muslims, PKS is opposed to class-based politics. It has not developed a base in organized labor or among peasants. The cadre structure that characterizes PKS is not well suited to mass mobilization. Furthermore, PKS is concerned that the violence that could occur in demonstrations mobilizing marginalized urban youth would undermine the moral appeal of PKS for the pious middle classes. For example at a demonstration organized by KAMMI in the front of the U.S. Embassy in April 2002, which is said to have attracted 95,000 people, protestors breached the barricades and attacked security personnel with sticks and flag poles. The potential for KAMMI and PKS being labeled violent and militant was apparent. Antara, the state news agency, quoted KAMMI Surabaya chairman Guritno as saying, “If the US and UN fail to stop the Israeli aggression, we will mobilize a greater force.”
Hidayat Nur Wahid argues that PKS does not need to address the issue of class because religion cannot solve all problems. So long as PKS upholds Islamic values, such as opposition to corruption and the provision of social services, it can be an effective force for good and change.
PKS has also been unable to overcome differences in ideology that divide the different streams of political dakwah. One factor that could bring the different streams of political dakwah together is defense of Muslims who are under attack. As KAMMI leader Andi Rahmat explains, “Relations among Muslims are ideological in nature and known as ukhuwah (brotherhood). . . . this ideological relation or Muslim brotherhood will surface and become a common bond when pressure against Muslims in general increases.” However, PKS has been cautious about appealing for mass support in the face of attacks on Islam. Despite accusations that it has engaged in “politics” and criticism that it betrayed Islamist goals in failing to support the Jakarta Charter, over the past four years PKS has emerged with the reputation of being the cleanest political party in Indonesia. While the tensions between PKS’s commitment to establishing an Islamic state and its commitment to democracy are unresolved, there is widespread agreement that in the future, as approved by the election of 2009, the party is likely to emerge as an important new force in Indonesian politics.
To sum up, democracy as a promising style of government finally should consider some dangerous consequences since it may be as despotic as aristocracy despites we may still hope that democracy can be another possible choice in governing society. If we cannot combat several obstacles, we may just let ourselves experience the “bad” government in another format. Democracy will be only "beautiful" in theory and still "messy" in practice. Therefore, the participation of Islamic party, such as PKS, is considered vital to control the government as well as to give the religious touch to democracy.