made up of 17,000 islands, will hold the biggest, most complex
one-day elections in the world on 17 April. 809,500 polling stations,
Indonesian voters will be choosing from more than 250,000 candidates
for 20,538 legislative seats at five levels of government over a
period of just six hours. A total of 192.8 million Indonesians are
registered to vote in what is
the world’s third-largest democracy after India and the US.
derives from the Greek
meaning "Indian islands" and dates to the 18th century when it was employed by an English naturalist to classify the ethnic and
geographic area. "Indonesia" was seized upon by
nationalists as a word to imagine a unity of people. The
first native scholar to use the name was Ki
when in 1913 he established a press bureau in the Netherlands,
In the pursuit of profits and administrative control, the Dutch
imposed an authority of the Dutch
East Indies on an array of peoples who had not previously shared
any unified political identity. By the start of the 20th century, the
Dutch had formed the territorial boundaries of a colonial state that
became the precursor to modern Indonesia.
During the 1920s and 30s, a small elite began to articulate a rising anti-colonialism and a
national consciousness. During
this period the first Indonesian political parties began to emerge.
not nationalist agenda and often more anti-Chinese than anti-Dutch.
Party of Indonesia
(PKI), formed in 1920, was a fully-fledged independence party
inspired by European politics. On
28 October 1928, the All-Indonesian Youth Congress proclaimed the
establishing the nationalist goals of: "one country —
Indonesia, one people — Indonesian, and one language —
is a very ethnically diverse country, with around 300 distinct native
ethnic groups and 700 local languages. The country's official
language is Indonesian,
a variant of Malay
was promoted by
nationalists in the 1920s, and declared the official language in
soon embarked upon wars of expansion. The invasion and annexation of
Papua in 1961-1962. Some 30 000 Papuans were killed in the period
Mandala through to 1969.
Then there was the invasion and
occupation of East Timor with an estimated 102,000 conflict-related
deaths through the entire period 1974 to 1999, including 18,600
violent killings and 84,200 deaths from disease and starvation.
Indonesian forces and their auxiliaries were held
responsible for 70% of the killings.
Indonesia could very well be described as an invented
nation-state that having been subject to imperialism became itself imperialist.