Electoral conflict and the maturity of local democracy: Testing the modernisation hypothesis

Crawford School of Public Policy | Arndt-Corden Department of Economics | Indonesia Project

Event details

Indonesia Study Group

Date & time

Wednesday 21 September 2011


Seminar Room B, Coombs Building, Fellows Road, ANU


M. Zulfan Tadjoeddin (School of Social Sciences, University of Western Sydney)


Indonesia Project
+61 2 6125 3794
There has been a rapid rise in the use of electoral processes to legitimise governments and Indonesia is not an exception. It is expected that elections provide a predictable and rule-bound method for channelling conflict constructively, reducing the need for political stakeholders to opt for violent alternatives. Ironically, widespread electoral violence has recently occurred in electoral processes in countries such as East Timor, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Zimbabwe. Indonesia could be added to the list, albeit with a lower scale of violence mainly found at the local level elections. It has been argued that electoral violence, to a large extent, remains a relatively under-researched field.

This paper constructs an electoral hostility index for 282 local direct elections (Pilkada) of district heads during 2005’07 and examines the socio-economic determinants of local democratic maturity in Indonesia. There are 67 Pilkada (out of 282) categorised as having medium, high or very high levels of electoral hostility. The picture is dominated by hostilities directed towards the local elections commission after voting day. The large sample quantitative analysis employs ordered logistic regression. The results show some evidence in support of the modernisation hypothesis in the context of Indonesia’s local democracies. Higher Pilkada hostility or less mature local democracy tends to be experienced by districts with lower income, higher poverty incidence and less urbanised. The results also imply that democracy cannot be deepened in the absence of economic development.

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