Mass strikes of public transportation drivers started on Monday, January 6, in a number of Indonesian cities. Street protests continue against the IMF sponsored cuts in subsidies which have provoked a price hike. Although still relatively small these protests could become more massive in the coming days. Particularly important is the call for a nation-wide strike for Thursday January 9 (today) by a front of 23 different trade unions which could halt industry in many parts of the country.

May Day is not a holiday in Indonesia. Even if May 1 fell this year on a Saturday it is still a normal working day for most workers on the archipelago. Workers have to take a day off or go on strike to be present. Despite this and other obstacles thousands of workers hit the streets in the main industrial centres like Jakarta, Bandung and Surabaya on the island Java, Medan in Sumatra, Palu in Sulawesi and smaller places like Riau and Batam.

Question: The factional infighting between the Indonesian parliament and the President has reached the point of a severe constitutional crisis. An impeachment procedure against him has now started and will culminate in a special session of the People Representative Assembly on the first of August. This may lead to the censuring of the President and his replacement 22 months after being the first democratically elected president. What are the underlying causes for this protracted crisis at the top of Indonesian society?

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