Democracy for Sale in Indonesia

May 1, 2018 - 12:00pm

The Puck Building - 295 Lafayette Street, Mulberry Conference Room (Room 3072), 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10012

Based on a forthcoming book co-authored with Edward Aspinall (Cornell UP, fall 2018), Ward Berenschot will discuss the evolving character of election campaigns in Indonesia. While clientelistic vote mobilization - the exchange of personal favours for electoral support - dominates electoral strategies across much of the global south, Berenschot argues that Indonesia's 'patronage democracy' is distinctive because of the limited role of political parties. He will describe why politicians need to rely on non-party organisations as well as bureaucratic networks to build their campaign organization. This free-wheeling nature of election campaigns can help explain some of the salient features of Indonesia's democracy, such as the pervasiveness of vote buying, the electoral advantage of incumbents and the relative dominance of politicians with a bureaucratic background.

Ward Berenschot is a postdoc at KITLV Leiden (the Netherlands) researching local democracy, clientelism and identity politics in India and Indonesia. He is the author of Riot Politics: India’s Hindu-Muslim Violence and the Everyday Mediation of the State (Columbia University Press 2011) and Democracy for Sale: Elections, Clientelism and the State in Indonesia (Cornell University Press, fall 2018, with Edward Aspinall).

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