Democratization in the Digital Era: Experience from Southeast Asia


  • Athiqah Nur Alami Reserach Center for Politics, National Research and Innovation Agency (Badan Riset dan Inovasi Nasional-BRIN), Indonesia
  • Dien Nguyen An Luong The ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore
  • Ella Prihatini International Relations Department, Faculty of Humanities, Bina Nusantara University, Indonesia
  • Eryan Ramadhani International Relations Department, Faculty of Humanities, Bina Nusantara University, Indonesia
  • Jan Robert R. Go Department of Political Science, University of the Philippines Diliman, Philippines
  • Noorul Hafidzah School of Business and Social Sciences, Albukhary International University, Malaysia
  • Ummu Atiyah International Studies Department, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Malaysia



democratization, digital era, cyberspace, Southeast Asia


Southeast Asia is home to about 8.5% of the world’s total population and 10% of its internet users, yet it is also home to 12.7% of the world’s social media users. The exponential growth in internet and social media utilization poses both opportunities and challenges towards democratization. The research aims to examine how the digital sphere may or may not support inclusive and deliberative democracy in the region. Using elaboration on case studies from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam, the current study is reflecting on shared challenges and opportunities in preserving democracy amidst the rapid development of cyberspace as a mode of political communication. The findings suggest that digital space has been instrumental in harassing dissent or jailing opposition members in countries like the Philippines and Vietnam. On the other hand, the use of technology provides an opportunity to foster a more deliberative and inclusive democracy in Indonesia and Malaysia. The article contributes to the wider conversation on democracy and the digital sphere in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries.


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