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The Institutionalisation of Political Parties in Post-authoritarian Indonesia

The Institutionalisation of Political Parties in Post-authoritarian Indonesia: From the Grass-roots Up

Ulla Fionna
  • Book Info
    The Institutionalisation of Political Parties in Post-authoritarian Indonesia
    Book Description:

    Indonesia's democratic political parties developed rapidly after the end of the New Order era (1966-1998). Based on extensive fieldwork, this book provides a new and necessary perspective on the activities, administration, and membership of the local branches of four large parties. The author also addresses why some political parties in Indonesia have managed to strengthen their institutional base while others have failed to do the same. A significant contribution to understanding grassroots party organization in Indonesia, this timely volume provides insight into the state of parties in advance of the 2014 elections.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1895-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Table of Contents
    (pp. 7-8)
  2. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 11-12)
  3. 1 The Question of Institutionalisation
    (pp. 13-24)

    Because of their prominence in Western democracies, political parties have a reputation as the most established means of political participation. Political parties serve as an important vehicle for engagement in politics, and becoming a party member is a simple way to take a political stance. However, in Indonesia, the connection between political parties and political participation was undermined by two of Indonesia’s most prominent presidents, Sukarno (1945-1966) and Suharto (1966-1998). Sukarno is famous for his decision to ‘bury the parties’, while Suharto manipulated the party system to enhance his personal power. Sukarno and Suharto, Indonesia’s first two presidents, dramatically shaped...

  4. 2 Genesis of Modern Political Organisation in Indonesia
    (pp. 25-54)

    Sukarno, Indonesia’s first president, once remarked that Indonesian political parties ‘grew like weeds with shallow roots’ and were ‘interest top-heavy with petty-selfishness and vote-catching’ (1965: 265). From independence in 1945 until 1966, parties in Indonesia enjoyed postcolonial freedom. The early part of this period was characterised by dynamic political participation at the grass-roots level, and freedom for parties to pursue different ideologies. However, the period ended with political repression triggered by Sukarno’s fear of parties’ growing power. This period of transition, known asDemokrasi Terpimpin(Guided Democracy), created the foundations for the political structures of the New Order (1966-1998).


  5. 3 Diminishing Grass-roots Influence During the New Order
    (pp. 55-74)

    After the attempted coup, allegedly by the pki, in 1965, Suharto took control and in 1966 he became Indonesia’s second president.¹ During the period of his administration, known as the New Order (1966-1998), the operations and organisation of political parties changed dramatically. As we have seen, Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno, was responsible for the beginning of the decline of the role of parties, particularly after the implementation of Guided Democracy. But it was only after the 1971 elections that his successor, Suharto, forced the parties to fuse together and placed strict limits on their ideological freedom and ability to organise...

  6. 4 Party Organisation
    (pp. 75-94)

    The newfound freedom that followed the fall of Suharto in May of 1998 was a shock, a wake-up call, and a great opportunity for Indonesian political parties after a long period of slumber. In the vastly more open political climate of the era ofreformasi, the parties – now numbering over a hundred – were able to devote far more attention to organising at the grass-roots. Indeed, the Habibie government’s electoral system required them to demonstrate that they had local branches as evidence of public support. In response, the parties developed different approaches to branch office management. But, in general,...

  7. 5 Party Activities
    (pp. 95-116)

    Like Indonesian political parties generally, Partai Golkar, Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan, Partai Amanat Nasional and Partai Keadilan Sejahtera all have a strong preference for organising socio-cultural activities, mainly to attract as much attention and participation as possible. Party age has little to do with the capacity to organise these and other activities. Rather, it is the commitment and dedication found in a particular branch to organise activities that makes the difference. Young parties have proven just as able as the older parties to be active and creative in managing activities. But both the priorities and capacities of the parties vary,...

  8. 6 Recruitment Approaches
    (pp. 117-138)

    One indicator of the progress of the local organisation of political parties is recruitment. The degree of coherence between a party’s national policy and its local application is of particular concern here, as it reflects a local branch’s degree of organisation (Janda 1980) and the extent to which regulations issued by the party’s central office are followed.

    Recruitment is widely regarded as an indication of party success (Klingemann & Fuchs 1995; Vanhanen 2000; Mair & van Biezen 2001). In his classic study of political parties, Duverger (1964) argues that parties can be differentiated by their emphases on recruitment. Traditional mass parties aim...

  9. 7 Members’ Motivations and Participation in the Parties
    (pp. 139-164)

    So, what should parties do after attracting and recruiting grass-roots members? Ideally, they should build on the resulting momentum and ensure that these members will be attached and active. However, deep involvement in party life depends on individuals’ aspirations, supported by party efforts at engaging them in meaningful participation. In Malang, the lack of effort by the parties to fully engage their members resulted in a tendency towards creating passive memberships, including people who joined a party just to obtain a membership card but had little knowledge of party organisation. Local party branches faced challenges creating and strengthening members’ attachments,...

  10. 8 Party Career and Intra-party Democracy
    (pp. 165-186)

    Party branches’ organisational prowess can be seen in whether they practise what they preach. If they respect democracy, they should implement it within their organisations and how they manage party careers and internal leadership provides indications of how successful their organisations are.

    In the theoretical literature on democracy, intra-party democracy is deemed crucial for ‘effective participation’ and ‘voting equalities’, two elements of Dahl’s definition of democracy (1998: 37-38). Theorists argue that voting makes for equal rights among party members and guarantees that their voices matter, and that parties’ efforts to implement democratic principles in their own organisations are key to...

  11. 9 Progress of Party Institutionalisation and Its Role in Indonesia’s Democratisation
    (pp. 187-210)

    My examination of Partai Golkar, pdip, pks and pan has found that the organisational superiority of one party over another depends on the commitment and skills of local party personnel, as well as local resources.¹ More institutionalised party branches have greater capacity to conduct activities and programmes and provide channels for political participation, while less institutionalised branches, similar to the dysfunctional New Order parties, tend to be passive and ineffective.

    Applying Western theories to Indonesia can be problematic, particularly because Western democracies are much more advanced and their parties are more institutionalised than those in Indonesia, where parties have never...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 233-246)