Valuing Votes: Grassroots Development, Political Culture and Democratization in Indonesia

Title

Valuing Votes: Grassroots Development, Political Culture and Democratization in Indonesia

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Research Question

How do citizens differ in their meaning of democracy in Indonesia, and what is the role of government officials and parties in socializing citizens into these attitudes?

Significance

Indonesia is considered by scholars as a successful example of a Southeast Asian transition to democracy. Yet the country does face several problems since its transition in 1998, including political and electoral corruption, vote-buying, and apathetic attitudes about politics among citizens. Our research can help explain the underlying causes of these attitudes with the goal of helping government agencies to improve political socialization and strengthen support for democracy among citizens.

Methods Used

Qualitative interviews with citizens, candidates, and government officials; these are supplemented with quantitative analysis of survey data of citizens.

Conclusions/Outcomes

We have found that the attitudes underlying vote-buying practices reflect differences in the meaning of democracy for Indonesian citizens. These attitudes are complex and nuanced. For example, many lower income citizens are torn between the perspective that accepting money from candidates is corrupt but the economic benefits the money provides to their families. In a paper that is currently under review at the Journal of East Asian Studies, we find that income and education create deep ambivalence among citizens regarding attitudes about vote-buying and their willingness to accept gifts from candidates.

Publication Date

2015

Department

Political Science

Disciplines

Asian Studies | International and Area Studies | Political Science

Valuing Votes: Grassroots Development, Political Culture and Democratization in Indonesia

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