Yet over the past thirteen years these Islamic parties have also notably failed to coalesce, to grow, or to achieve success for Islamist presidential candidates. At the same time, even the most stridently Islamic of these parties have abandoned efforts to demand constitutional change in favor of sharia law and concentrated their energies instead on coalition politics with non-Islamic politicians and parties. The Islamic parties have cultivated alliances with successive presidents to win seats in Cabinet, while actively fund-raising and recruiting from among major businessmen and machine politicians in order to strengthen their campaigns. Thus thirteen years of parliamentary politics has meant thirteen years of compromise, coalition-building, co-optation, and corruption for Islamic parties and politicians, rather than the effective promotion of political Islam.
Second, the broader trends in Indonesian society since 1999 likewise suggest that the more generalized fears about sectarian conflict in Egypt today are overblown. The localized anti-Chinese riots that took place in Indonesia in the mid-1990s disappeared after 1998, and the Muslim-Christian violence that erupted in the Moluccas and Central Sulawesi in 1999 ran its course by the end of 2001. Today, ethnic-Chinese Indonesians enjoy far greater freedom from discrimination, harassment, and persecution than ever before, and Christians across the Indonesian archipelago likewise practice their faith with few real fears or restrictions. To be sure, the years 2002-2005 did see some Islamist terrorist activity (a single bombing attack on a foreign target in each of those years), and since 2005 some Islamist groups have waged a campaign of persecution against "deviant" Muslim sects such as the Ahmadis. The Islamic parties did succeed in pushing an anti-pornography bill through parliament in 2008, and some local assemblies have passed new regulations supposedly inspired by Islamic law. But all in all, Indonesian society under democracy today is more pluralistic and liberal than it ever was under authoritarian rule. Even activists fighting for the rights of gay, lesbian, and transgender Indonesians have claimed considerable progress over the past decade and see bright prospects for the years ahead.
Third, Indonesia's experience has shown that there are serious threats to democratic institutions from other quarters. Since the overthrow of Suharto the Indonesian military establishment has largely remained insulated from outside scrutiny. Today the President of Indonesia is a retired army general, and many other retired military officers occupy positions of real prominence and power in politics and society. At the same, money and political machines have come to dominate the institutions of parliamentary democracy. Businessmen have captured many of the political parties, and members of parliament use their positions to pursue their own business interests or serve as proxies for powerful magnates. The past thirteen years in Indonesia have seen the consolidation of an oligarchic form of democracy, highly corrupt and compromised, and hardly responsive to growing problems of social inequality and injustice across the country.
Against this backdrop, an Indonesian future for Egyptian democracy is all too easy to envisage, both for better and for worse. If Egypt follows Indonesia's trajectory, the months ahead will see the drafting of a new constitution, followed by presidential elections. The military establishment will cede formal power to a civilian government but continue to enjoy informal power and prerogatives for years to come. The politics of the street (including the dimension of inter-religious conflict) will gradually give way to the "parliamentarization" of political life. Islamic parties and politicians in Egypt will remain strong but suffer from increasing fragmentation and fractiousness, and coalition-building and corruption will erode the transformative potential of religion. Overall, the years ahead will see the entrenchment of an oligarchic democracy, one in which the politics of money and machinery predominate while the military continues to exercise considerable influence.