Money, Power and Ideology

Political Parties in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia

Marcus Mietzner

  • Published:
  • Pages: 300 pp.
  • illustrated
Available from NIAS Press in Europe

Are political parties the weak link in Indonesia’s young democracy? More pointedly, do they form a giant cartel to suck patronage resources from the state? Indonesian commentators almost invariably brand the country’s parties as corrupt, self-absorbed, and elitist, while most scholars argue that they are poorly institutionalized. This book tests such assertions by providing unprecedented and fine-grained analysis of the inner workings of Indonesian parties, and by comparing them to their equivalents in other new democracies around the world.

 

Are political parties the weak link in Indonesia’s young democracy? More pointedly, do they form a giant cartel to suck patronage resources from the state? Indonesian commentators almost invariably brand the country’s parties as corrupt, self-absorbed, and elitist, while most scholars argue that they are poorly institutionalized. This book tests such assertions by providing unprecedented and fine-grained analysis of the inner workings of Indonesian parties, and by comparing them to their equivalents in other new democracies around the world. Contrary to much of the existing scholarship, the book finds that Indonesian parties are reasonably well institutionalized if compared to their counterparts in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and other parts of Asia. There is also little evidence that Indonesian parties are cartelized. But there is a significant flaw in the design of Indonesia’s party system: while most new democracies provide state funding to parties, Indonesia has opted to deny central party boards any meaningful subsidies. As a result, Indonesian parties face severe difficulties in financing their operations, leading them to launch predatory attacks on state resources and making them vulnerable to manipulation by oligarchic interests.

 

 

This is a wonderful book, the best to appear on Indonesian party politics, indeed on Indonesian politics in general, since democratization more than a decade ago.’ (R. William Liddle, Ohio State University)

 

 

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by Niels Mulder
From journal:
www.newbooks.asia

"When an old Indonesia hand such as Bill Liddle praises a book to high heavens, we may be sure that we hold something special in our hands. And so it is!

"When an old Indonesia hand such as Bill Liddle praises a book to high heavens, we may be sure that we hold something special in our hands. And so it is! The book is not only ambitious, but contains an exhaustive and meticulous analysis of what has been said and what there is to say about political parties in Indonesia, with the considerable merit of doing these things in the comparative perspective that places the Indonesian case in its proper dimensions.

(…) Money, Power, and Ideology is too rich in contents and details to be summarily discussed as it would seriously distort the book’s balanced approach. Even so, we may safely conclude that it is a pellucid, all-round introduction to the study of political parties in all their aspects that will greatly enhance the understanding of both teachers of the subject and their students, and that will stand up to all sorts of challenges for a considerable time to come."

by Dirk Tomsa
From journal:
Inside Indonesia, 116: Apr-Jun 2014

"The book provides an overview of Indonesian party politics that is unprecedented not only in its breadth – it covers all nine parties that held seats in parliament between 2009 and 2014 – but also in its depth as it analyses these nine parties on the basis of a multitude of relevant indicators…

"The book provides an overview of Indonesian party politics that is unprecedented not only in its breadth – it covers all nine parties that held seats in parliament between 2009 and 2014 – but also in its depth as it analyses these nine parties on the basis of a multitude of relevant indicators…

Mietzner’s book makes a tremendous contribution to our understanding of contemporary Indonesian politics. By challenging conventional wisdoms, it invites the reader to think outside the box and not simply accept the seemingly established truth that parties are the weakest link in Indonesia’s democracy…

All in all, this is a magnificent work, which I wholeheartedly recommend to all readers of Inside Indonesia and everyone interested in party politics in Indonesia and beyond."

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