Targeted money politics: The interplay between partisanship and clientelism in Indonesia

Event details

PSC Seminar Series

Date & time

Tuesday 20 October 2015


PSC Reading Room, Hedley Bull Centre (130), corner of Garran Road and Liversidge Street, ANU


Burhanuddin Muhtadi


Allison Ley
612 53097

How prevalent is money politics in Indonesia, and under what conditions is money politics effective? My research deals with these two questions that have vexed Indonesianists for the last 15 years. Based on the results of nation-wide surveys I conducted, it seems money politics has become an important campaigning strategy in the country’s electoral politics. With limited resources and in an environment in which ballot secrecy is protected, however, candidates are concerned with its effectiveness in determining voting outcomes. Accordingly, they focus on the distribution of material benefits to some voters, but exclude others. What types of voters do they target? The conventional wisdom among political scientists is that parties or candidates will not waste their budgets on loyal supporters, but instead spend on swing voters. This is based on assumption that the loyal voter is captive. This dominant view, however, is not supported by strong evidence in the Indonesian case. My findings show that parties and candidates tend to target their own core voters for whom voting behavior can be maximized by increasing their turnout. My research design, which primarily relies on sample surveys, augmented by survey of brokers and politicians as well as in-depth interviews, allows us to explain why politicians target their own loyal voters.


About the Speaker

Burhanuddin Muhtadi is a PhD candidate under the Australia Awards Scholarship scheme in the Department of Political and Social Change, in the Coral Bell School of Asia-Pacific Affairs, at the Australian National University (ANU). He completed his masters from the Faculty of Asian Studies at ANU. His sub-thesis was on ‘Thinking Globally, Acting Locally: Analysing Islamist Activism of Indonesia’s Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) from a Social Movement Perspective.’ He is a lecturer in ‘Election and Voting Behaviour’ at the State Islamic University in Jakarta. He is also an executive director of the Indikator Politik Indonesia and Director of Public Affairs at the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI). His research interests are voting behaviour, clientelism, social movements, and political Islam. He has published in the Asian Journal of Social Sciences, the Graduate Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies and the Asian Journal of Social Policy. His dissertation discusses money politics in the nexus of politicians, brokers and voters. 

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