Local Politics in Indonesia
Pathways to Power
Routledge – 2011 – 150 pages
Competitive elections have become an institutionalized feature of contemporary Indonesia’s politics. This, together with other considerations, makes it reasonable to call Indonesia the world’s third largest democracy. Nonetheless, democratic elections in Indonesia are both more complex and interesting than is commonly understood. This book explores how local elections in Indonesia have affected the development and dynamics of Indonesia’s fledgling democracy. Based on fine-grained analyses of elections in five localities, the book shows how Indonesia’s transition to direct elections of local government executives has transformed party politics and elite development at local levels of governance.
Employing the methods of political anthropology and informed by a critical reading of theories of democracy and decentralization, the book presents detailed analyses of elections in five localities across four Indonesian provinces. The book calls attention to the ambiguous relation between formal democratic reforms and political behavior. It illustrates how local elite politics has evolved within the context of political and administrative reforms, whose announced goals are to improve the representativeness and responsiveness of political institutions. This book provides a window onto local political processes that will be of interest to students and scholars of politics in Southeast Asia and beyond.
"Choi has provided us with a detailed and accurate description of how Indonesia’s local politics works in the era of democratisation. By providing a body of original empirical data, this book has certainly made a contribution to the growing literature on local politics in post-Suharto Indonesia. This study is not only valuable for Indonesianists who are engaging in the ongoing discussion on the nature of Indonesia’s new democracy, but also for comparativists who are interested in broader theoretical issues of democratisation. The experience of Indonesia, as Choi, together with other scholars, highlights, demonstrates the daunting difficulty of installing liberal democratic values in the continued presence of patrimonialism, which constitutes one of the classic challenges of democratic transition." - Yuki Fukuoka; Local Politics in Indonesia: Pathways to Power, Journal of Contemporary Asia, 43:1, 186-188 (2013).
Introduction: Decentralizing Democracy? 1. Democracy and Local Power Struggle 2. Winning Mayorship by 21 Votes: Yogyakarta’s 2001 Mayoral Election 3. The Rise of Local Elites, with Money and Sosok: The Riau Archipelago’s 2005 Gubernatorial Election 4. Oligarchic and Paralyzed Political Parties: Batam’s 2006 Mayoral Election 5. The Reassertion of Patrimonial Politics: Depok’s and Banyuwangi’s 2005 Elections 6. Conclusion: Political Change and Pathways to Power
Nankyung Choi is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Department of Asian and International Studies of the City University of Hong Kong.