chapter  2
16 Pages

Balancing livelihoods, limited options, and the state: alleviating poverty in critical environments ELIZ ABE TH M OR R ELL

Indonesia’s move from authoritarianism to democracy is stabilizing after difficult years of transition. Since the downfall of President Suharto in 1998, citizens have claimed many of the freedoms formerly denied to them. As well, reformed electoral systems and political institutions are increasingly effective (Aspinall 2005; Törnquist 2005). Nevertheless, analysts have cautioned that the democratic infrastructure which is now in place is not in itself sufficient to create a functioning democracy.2 Change has been top-down and the political transformation has not translated into tangible benefits for most people. Broad-based socio-economic equity has not yet been achieved, and local voices remain weak. As the World Bank has argued (World Bank 2006), poverty reduction is one of the major challenges facing the newly democratized nation, and improving governance is an essential key to successfully implementing pro-poor policies.