Contemporary Southeast Asia Vol. 39/3 (December 2017). Special Issue: "The 2017 Pilkada (Local Elections) In Indonesia: Clientelism, Programmatic Politics and Social Networks

Contemporary Southeast Asia Vol. 39/3 (December 2017). Special Issue: "The 2017 Pilkada (Local Elections) In Indonesia: Clientelism, Programmatic Politics and Social Networks
Ian Storey, editor
Date of publication:  December 2017
Publisher:  ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute
Number of pages:  186
Code:  CS39/3

About the publication

  • Attained impact factor of 0.906 in Social Sciences Citation Index 2017
  • Ranked 18th by Google Scholar Metrics 2018 in the Asian Studies and History category


  • Contemporary Southeast Asia Vol. 39/3 (December 2017). Special Issue: "The 2017 Pilkada (Local Elections) In Indonesia: Clientelism, Programmatic Politics and Social Networks
    [Whole Publication, ISSN: 1793284X]
  • Preliminary pages
  • 1. The 2017 Pilkada (Local Elections) in Indonesia: Clientelism, Programmatic Politics and Social Networks, by Edward Aspinall, Wawan Mas'udi, authors
  • 2. The Rise of Uncontested Elections in Indonesia: Case Studies of Pati and Jayapura, by Cornelis Lay, Hasrul Hanif, Deni Ridwan, Noor Rohman, authors
    This article explains a new trend in Indonesian local politics: the rise of uncontested elections. We explore this trend by way of detailed examinations of two such elections in February 2017: the district head election in Pati, Central Java; and the mayoral election in Jayapura, Papua. In doing so, we consider explanations that have been advanced elsewhere, including those that focus on "scare-off effects" and incumbency advantages. Though such approaches are relevant, we show that there was a contrast between our two cases: in Pati, the strength of the incumbent and his wealthy running mate dissuaded rival candidates and parties from competing; in Jayapura, two other candidates wanted to run, and even secured backing from local party branches, but their candidacies were annulled after legal challenges. If the first pathway showed a process of broad-based elite bargaining producing a "win-win solution", in Jayapura the pathway involved a zero-sum-game contest between rival elites. Despite these differences, in both cases there was competition between local elites, but it happened prior to the election. Overall, we argue the rise of uncontested elections points to growing elite entrenchment in local politics.
  • 3. Programmatic Politics and Voter Preferences: The 2017 Election in Kulon Progo, Yogyakarta, by Wawan Mas'udi, Nanang Indra Kurniawan, authors
    Vote buying and patronage distribution have become widespread in Indonesian elections. Yet, it is also evident that some candidates use programmatic strategies to compete. Drawing on the case of the 2017 election in Kulon Progo district, Yogyakarta Special Region, and using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, this article seeks to explain why the incumbent opted out of vote buying and similar clientelistic strategies and why voters supported his programmatic approach. We show that the incumbent prepared vote buying as a fallback strategy but did not activate it. He was able to make this choice because he faced little competition and had invested politically in programmatic policies, though he was also assisted by his ability to manipulate his proximity with the Yogyakarta Sultanate for electoral purposes. This article shows that Indonesian voters can be highly appreciative of programmatic approaches, rather than simply being the "ballot-sellers" they are often assumed to be in the literature on money politics and patronage. In this case, moreover, programmatic success produced a less competitive election that in turn created the possibility for the incumbent candidate to opt out of clientelism.
  • 4. Peasants and Politics: Achievements and Limits of Popular Agency in Batang, Central Java, by Muhammad Anshari, author
    This article presents an analysis of popular political agency in Indonesian electoral politics by way of a close study of the district of Batang in Central Java. While many analyses suggest that local democratic government in Indonesia is unconsolidated and dominated by oligarchs, the experience of Batang shows that civil society groups representing poor and disenfranchised Indonesians can also play an important role in local politics. In 2011 a well-organized local peasant-based social movement, Omah Tani, supported a charismatic former military man who won an election as <i>bupati</i>, or district head, and subsequently delivered on promises to improve local governance and resolve land disputes in favour of farmers. It is argued that this was not an unqualified victory for social movement politics but rather a hybrid form of politics involving a cross-class coalition and reflected in the partial nature of delivery of programmatic gains, continued purchase of clientelistic patterns, and, above all, the movement's disorientation when the district head decided not to recontest in 2017 and the movement was unable to put forward a successor candidate. Even so, the Batang experience points to the potential of "democratic political blocs" in Indonesian local politics.
  • 5. Unopposed but Not Uncontested: Brokers and "Vote Buying" in the 2017 Pati District Election, by George Towar Ikbal Tawakkal, Andrew D Garner, authors
    This article examines brokerage activity and "vote buying" in the 2017 Pati district election, where the incumbent seeking re-election was the only candidate on the ballot. Although running unopposed, Indonesian election laws still require unopposed candidates to win the majority of votes cast in order to win. Despite facing a weak opposition that was under-funded and largely limited to the use of social media, the unopposed incumbent in Pati nonetheless built a large and expensive campaign organization and vigorously campaigned for votes. Some of the incumbent's supporters gave money directly to voters in the days before the election. Our study finds that a complex interaction between strategic political considerations and cultural factors explains the apparent paradox of why a popular and unopposed incumbent who was virtually assured victory would engage in an active campaign similar in size and scope to one found in a regular election involving multiple candidates.
  • 6. Adaptation and Continuities in Clientelism in a Fishing Community in Takalar, South Sulawesi, by Haryanto, author
    This article examines clientelistic politics during a local election in a fishing community in South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Numerous studies have identified Indonesia's fishing communities as locations of hierarchical social relations characterized by patron-client relations connecting boat owners and other traders with fishers, in which the latter are frequently deeply indebted to the former. Through a study of the 2017 local election in Takalar district, this article demonstrates that these social patterns are readily transferred to the political sphere, giving rise to a form of traditional brokerage in which coastal patrons act on behalf of candidates to direct their clients' voting behaviour. At the same time, coastal villages also saw significant patrimonial brokerage, in which the key actors were state officials, and political brokerage in which candidates formed campaign teams involving miscellaneous political and social networks and local community leaders. Distribution of patronage, in the form of money, goods and favours, was widespread. This article thus illustrates the complexity and competitiveness of contemporary clientelistic politics in Indonesia, including in a community in which traditional forms of clientelism are deeply entrenched.
  • 7. The Power of Female Brokers: Local Elections in North Aceh, by Rizkika Lhena Darwin, author
    Electoral politics in developing democracies, including Indonesia, tend to be characterized by clientelism. Women's position within clientelist relationships is usually discussed in terms of being objects of exploitation rather than being active political agents. This article offers a different perspective, showing that women exercised considerable agency as brokers in the 2017 election in the district of North Aceh. Aceh's culture has been shaped by colonial history, religiosity and experience of secessionist conflict and the 2004 tsunami. Together, these forces have reconstituted the space for women in politics, providing new opportunities for agency despite patriarchal structures and expectations. The analysis here shows that women brokers exercised significant autonomy in decisionmaking in the two most successful campaigns in this election, and they played critical roles as connectors, distributors and mobilizers. In doing so, they reached out both to men and women, and targeted the former using much the same methods as their male counterparts, the latter by using female-centred networks, appeals, gifts and language.
  • 8. When the Supporters Do Not Support: Politicizing a Soccer Fan Club in an Indonesian Election, by Yogi Setya Permana, author
    In the study of local politics in Indonesia, researchers have begun to turn their attention to the role of sporting organizations such as football clubs and their fans. It is widely believed in local communities that football is closely linked to politics, given that it has been observed that almost any form of social network can be used for electoral purposes in Indonesia. Supporters' clubs are a site where masses of ordinary people congregate, with a fanaticism which could offer lucrative political returns for politicians able to translate that passion into votes. However, thus far, the literature on Indonesian local politics provides little information on how football supporters are mobilized politically at the grassroots. This study therefore tests the proposition that football fan clubs can be used for electoral mobilization by way of a close study of one such club, Aremania, in the 2017 local election in the city of Batu, East Java. The analysis confounds expectations, showing that this fan club was not readily converted into a vote bank, largely as a consequence of its egalitarian organizational pattern and culture. At least in some cases, therefore, it seems that football clubs are one rare category of social group in Indonesia that is resistant to political mobilization. The argument is sharpened by way of a comparison with Argentina, where football supporters' clubs are more hierarchically organized and more closely linked to politics.
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