Monthly discussion: the New Order spectre: disinformation in Indonesia’s democracy

Date and venue

Date: Wednesday, 19 June 2019, 5.30-8.00 pm
Venue: Room 556 (Lectorial Room II), Arts West (Building 148)
The University of Melbourne, Parkville


In this discussion, the authors examine disinformation–the “simultaneously conscious and unconscious, blurring [of] the boundary between fact and fiction” (Cheyfitz, 2017: 7)–by taking the case of Indonesia’s 2019 Presidential Elections. We study the themes of disinformation surrounding both presidential candidates through social media in this moment of crisis. We find that indeed the obvious schism between the two narratives exists: Anti-Chinese and anti-communist themes coming from those who wish for Prabowo’s win, and anti-Islamist and anti-separatist sentiments originating from those aspiring for Jokowi’s victory. This shows that the authoritarian regime’s state ideology, or a set of normative beliefs held by a mass of individuals envisioning a powerful state with loyalty to Pancasila, is re-awaken through narratives circulating both candidates. This imagined powerful state puts on a strong hand over conservative Islam, moves the Chinese away from official politics, represses communist history while condemning separatist movements to keep the nation intact. Problematically, this ghost is working its way in a supposedly democratic period where newer media technologies enable more citizen engagement–playing them as active actors in maintaining this state ideology. We argue that this recurring event paints a picture where elements of authoritarianism, or spectres of the New Order, are resurrected through mediated public participation in electoral processes.


DR Inaya Rakhmani

Inaya Rakhmani is Lecturer at the Department of Communication, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Universitas Indonesia and member of the Indonesian Young Academy of Sciences (ALMI).

DR Imam Ardhianto, M.Sc.Soc

Imam Ardhianto is Lecturer at the Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Universitas Indonesia and PhD Candidate at the Insitute of Ethnology, Albert Ludwig Universitat de Freiburg.