How democracies die

Kostum Komik – November 25, 2020

Text reads:

Democracy in Indonesia dies:

1. If a regional election is won by using racial and religious sentiment like you.
2. If the democratic system is replaced by an Islamic caliphate by your friends.

An apparently casual photo of Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan reading a book on Sunday morning has sparked debate among social media users with some claiming the photo is a subtle jab at President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration.

In the viral photo posted on Baswedan's official Instagram page, he is pictured reading How Democracies Die, a best-selling book by American political scientists Daniel Zibllat and Steven Levitsky, which was widely seen as a manual to resist US President Donald Trump's authoritarian tendencies – an accusation leveled against President Widodo in recent months.

"Good morning, everyone. Enjoy your Sunday morning", Baswedan wrote in the caption.

Given the timing of the post, many interpreted it as being a comeback in response to criticism by the Widodo administration after Baswedan became the centre of public scrutiny over his alleged leniency toward crowds who violated Covid-19 health protocols during a series of mass gatherings for Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab in Jakarta between November 10 and 14.

Following the gatherings – which involved thousands of people welcoming Shihab's return to Indonesia – Baswedan was summoned and questioned by police for 10 hours last week. He was also criticised for visiting the scandal ridden cleric at his home in Central Jakarta shortly after his return to, as Baswedan put it, "catch up" with him.

The government has since doubled down on efforts to enforce health protocols including by issuing a new policy under which regional leaders can be sacked for failing to ensure public compliance with Covid-19 protocols.

As of November 23, Baswedan's Instagram post garnered over 273,000 likes while on Twitter, How Democracies Die is currently trending in Indonesia.

[Based on an article by the Jakarta Post titled "Photo of Anies reading 'How Democracies Die' fuels speculation on governor's views" (]