donderdag 7 juli 2016

Referendum: destructive or true democracy?

30 August 1999 a referendum was held in East Timor (as proposed before by President B.J. Habibie). Against the wish and hope of the Indonesian government, the population of the '26th province' decided in great majority for Independence, which was granted one year later.
Was independence a success for Timor Leste? My wife Paule and I visited the capital Dili in 1997 and found it a strange town, dominated by branch offices of all  ministries of the central government, all as white as the new cathedral. The beach side had the charm of Portuguese atmosphere. The giant statue of Jesus in the bay of Dili waas crowded with people going for picnic or a cool walk in the afternoon.
NKRI Negara Kesatuan Repiblik Indonesia is the acronym of the strong unitarian Indonesian, that has known a process of less outspoken centralism in the period after 1998. It was not everywhere a success: corruption and inefficiency came to the level of district or kabupaten. There was a process of growth of district, pemekaran, or blossoming with a strange terminology.
Now we had something like this in Europe: a move towards regional autonomy instead of growing unity and centralism.
David Cameron (left on the cartoon) wanted to stay within Europe, but with less power to the central institutions. Nigel Farage of the UKIP, United Kingdom Independence Party wanted absolute freedom, whatever that may be. The referendum gave them 52% for the Brexit or process of Brittania leaving the European Union.
Yogyakarta remained a deareh istimewa, so Jakarta and Aceh, with all kind of special rules. We still have to see what will be the result of the 'leaving Europe' process of the British population. Anyway, the referendum has brought less easy results even than was the case in Timor Leste.

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